Brussels, 22 Jun 2004
The EU-Japan business dialogue round table (BDRT), meeting as part of the EU-Japan summit on 21 June, called for a continuous dialogue on life sciences and biotechnology, as well as joint EU-Japanese research projects on sustainable development.
In light of the ongoing dispute between the EU and Japan over who should host the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER), tension between the two entities may have been predicted by some, particularly in the fields of research and technological development. On the contrary, however, the BDRT recommended closer cooperation in life sciences and biotechnology, while EU President Romano Prodi, speaking before the meeting, spoke of reinforcing the 'strategic partnership' between the EU and Japan.
'Our preparations for this summit have shown again the excellent spirit of cooperation shared by the EU and Japan on a wide range of issues,' said Mr Prodi. 'I am confident of a successful summit that will reflect the importance of the EU-Japan relationship, reinforcing our strategic partnership both in the political and economic areas.'
The EU-Japanese working groups on the life sciences and biotechnology, and sustainable development are both new, and were presenting their first sets of recommendations on 21 June.
The recommendations on life sciences and biotechnology call for 'a continuous dialogue at regular intervals among four parties representing each government and industry of the EU and Japan to discuss issues and implement the resulting action plans.' The BDRT also requests that the four parties make concerted efforts to promote public acceptance of biotechnology.
On sustainable development, the recommendations call for 'joint research projects in some sustainable development areas, including technology development of alternative energy.'
The EU-Japan summit is unlikely to end without discussion on ITER, although a breakthrough in talks seems unlikely at this stage. The Japan Times reports that a meeting between sub-cabinet officials from the six parties participating in ITER failed to choose between proposed sites in France and Japan on 18 June. Japan expressed a willingness to increase its share of the required funding, but this was met with similar proposals from the EU.
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