Brussels, 08 Feb 2005
The European Union is deeply engaged in programmes aimed at raising the standard of research and development as a conduit for socio-economic improvement. Headlines takes a look at how stronger research co-operation with the USA can help deliver many of the goals shared by both regions.
The EU has long sought to strengthen its research and development fundamentals by, for example, encouraging its researchers to stay and work in Europe and raising R&D spending across the Union. It has also sought to forge closer research relationships with international partners, such as Russia, China and the USA to share and exploit the benefits of knowledge.
Indeed, the EU and USA concluded a Science and Technology (S&T) Co-operation Agreement back in 1998. This Agreement was renewed last year in order to further buttress the pan-European dimension to trans-Atlantic S&T co-operation. Joint research activities are undertaken in metrology, the environment, materials science (including nano-technology), and non-nuclear and renewable energy (including hydrogen). There is also a joint EU-US task force on biotechnology.
This means US researchers, bringing their own funding, can participate in projects taking place within the European Union's Research Framework Programmes. For example, the CHIL (Computers in the Human Interaction Loop) project, funded by the EU Information Society Technologies (IST) programme, includes two US partners – Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University – in its 15-member consortium. The rest are from EU Member States Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain.
This three-year project worth around €24 million – over €15 million of which comes from the EU – is working on creating more people-friendly computing by monitoring how people interact, exchange information and collaborate to solve problems, learn or socialise in two main settings (offices and lecture halls).
An ERA-Link stretching over the Atlantic
Another way of strengthening the fabric of EU research is to engage in more dialogue with international partners. To this end, a series of symposia, organised jointly by the European Commission and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), is planned for later this month.
At the annual AAAS conference – the largest gathering of its kind worldwide – research policies in the EU and the USA will be compared. Public attitudes to science, scientific careers, research evaluation and the notion of risk-taking in research will be surveyed and documented with the aim of bringing down any R&D roadblocks to socio-economic growth.
According to the website of the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States, in Washington, trans-Atlantic co-operation in science, technology and education is vital to dealing with issues of global importance and to advancing our collective knowledge-base, providing a better quality of life for all.
To further assist the EU in reaching this goal, the European Commission is developing a new network for European researchers in the USA (ERA-Link), which will provide web-based and other services for those interested in improving contacts with fellow researchers on either side of the Atlantic. The results of a survey – on how the network should go ahead and what sort of information and services it should provide – will be officially presented to the press during the AAAS 2005 conference and be available on the EU Delegation in the US' website.