Brussels, 21 Nov 2002
A panel of representatives from EU Member States, the Commission and the automotive industry met to discuss the creation of the European Research Area (ERA) in Brussels on 20 November.
The event took place at the European council for automotive research and development (EUCAR) conference, and looked specifically at the question of whether the automotive industry in Europe is ready to participate in and promote the ERA, and if so, what needs to be done in order to achieve this.
Ashley Roberts, from the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK, said that automotive research in the UK is already based on a model of cooperation between academia, industry and government, and that he would therefore welcome further coordination with European partners. Mr Roberts warned, however, that 'it is not the job of national research funds to subsidise shortfalls in EU research programmes.'
Michel Gaillard from the French Ministry of Research made it clear that what the ERA was trying to achieve was coordination not harmonisation, and said that France would be at the forefront of efforts to make the ERA a reality. Mr Gaillard said that the aim of all players should be 'to set joint objectives and then begin the process of coordinating national activities.' In terms of setting these joint objectives, he described the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) as a tool in the process, and said that thought should be given to the other tools needed to complete the job.
Representing DG Research, Hervé Pero agreed with Mr Gaillard's emphasis on coordination, but added that another important element of the ERA is integration. Mr Pero said that the ERA should integrate research policy with innovation and education policies for the benefit of competitiveness, and should also integrate all parties with a stake in research, including Europe's citizens.
On the subject of how to actively approach the creation of the ERA, many of the panellists were in agreement. The need to define common objectives or a shared vision for European research was highlighted by several participants. Rémy Renaudin from EUREKA, said that what is needed is political support for the project from Member States, and support from industry in terms of identifying the areas in which they wish to cooperate.
Rudolf Kunze, from the road transport research advisory committee, said that a major impediment to the creation of the ERA was the lack of clarity on the issue of intellectual property and the European patent. In closing, Mr Gaillard suggested that to reduce the apparent size of the task that lies ahead, those parties committed to building the ERA should begin the process of devising roadmaps, completing benchmarking exercises, and agreeing on indicators against which progress can be measured.
For further information on the ERA, please consult the following web address: http://www.cordis.lu/rtd2002/era-debate/ era.htm
For further information on EUCAR, please visit http://www.acea.be/EucarInternet