More money, careers, space and bioethics high on Commission’s research agenda

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin outlined six priorities for the period of the Italian presidency.

To achieve this, the Commission is planning to focus on six broad policy areas:

  • The 3% objective: meeting the target of increasing research investment from the current 1.9% to 3% of its GDP per year, with two thirds financed by the private sector, as called for by the 2002 Barcelona European Council; this would mean a necessary increase of 500,000 jobs.


  • Attractiveness of researchers’ careers: providing researchers with support and incentives to stop the so-called “brain drain”, i.e. researchers leaving the EU to work in other countries such as the US or Japan; the Commission will present a Communication on this issue


  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER): progressing on the ITER nuclear fusion energy research project to build a new experimental reactor producing a high level of energy through the fusion of hydrogen nuclei at very high temperatures in order to provide the EU with another important alternative energy source to fossil fuels; agreement on the location of ITER is expected at the September Council meeting (candidates are Vandellos, Spain, and Cadarache, France).


  • European Space Policy: defining and implementing a coherent set of rules for collaboration between the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) to give the EU a political rule in the field of space; the Council should conclude a frameword agreement between the EU and the ESA at its November meeting and discuss a White Paper on European Space Policy, which will be drafted by the Commission in co-operation with ESA and should be published before the end of 2003.


  • Bio-ethics: research involving human embryonic stem cells and human embryos: the key challenge for the Italian presidency will be to reach an agreement on a Commission proposal for establishing criteria for EU funding of research projects involving the use of human embryonic stem cells; ministers are expected to adopt a Decision at the Competitiveness Council in November 2003.


  • Research infrastructures: the Italian Presidency will organise a conference in Trieste on 21 November to assess progress of European cooperation in the field of research infrastructure and stimulate further initiatives; research infrastructure is also expected to be a formal agenda item at the Competitiveness Council in November 2003.


At the Lisbon Council in March 2000, the Heads of States and Government agreed to make the EU the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge-based economy by 2010 (seeEURACTIV 03 June 2002). In line with this aim, the overarching objective of the Research Commissioner Busquin during the Italian presidency will be to continue the efforts to create a more favourable overall framework for research in Europe to realise the vision of a genuine integrated European Research Area (ERA) (seeEURACTIV 17 October 2002).


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