Brussels, February 2002
Speaking in Budapest, Hungary on 25 February, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin urged the EU's candidate countries to use the Phare funds, a Commission programme aimed at supporting reform in certain Central and Eastern European countries, to support research activities.
Mr Busquin told Hungary's President Glatz, the Secretary of State for education and science, József Pálinkás and other members of his audience at the Hungarian Academy of science of his regret that the candidate countries often hesitate to make use of the Phare money to fund research, preferring to use it for economic or environmental activities.
'Nothing can however have more impact on growth, competitiveness, employment and quality of life as research and the building of strong competencies in this domain,' said Mr Busquin.
The Commissioner called on the candidate countries to make more use of this tool to facilitate their integration into the European research effort, and encouraged the use of all financial instruments for cohesion for the support of research, technological development, technology transfer and innovation.
Mr Busquin claimed that the forthcoming enlargement of the EU was central to his proposals for creating a European research area (ERA), citing two reasons for the link between the two EU ventures.
'Firstly, the extension of the Union to a greater number of extremely diverse countries makes the limits and forms of collaboration which we have had until now particularly evident as well as the necessity of going beyond simple joint projects,' said the Commissioner.
'Secondly, the European research area project reminds us [...] of the freedom of circulation for scientists, techniques and knowledge which existed before the development of nation states, especially in the Europe of the Middle Ages and that of Enlightenment,' said Mr Busquin, saying that it makes sense to have this form of coordination in Europe once again.
A special effort has been made to facilitate the participation of the candidate countries since their association agreements were made, said Mr Busquin, and he promised that this effort will continue and will be intensified if and where necessary. A priority is to encourage and facilitate the presence of candidate country universities, research centres and enterprises, particularly SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) in the networks of excellence and integrated projects, two of the new tools proposed for the Sixth Framework programme (FP6).
For further information on the Phare programme, please consult the following web address: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg1a/phare/in dex.htm