Brussels, 28 May 2003
EUROHORCs, the European Union research organisations' heads of research councils, have issued a declaration on reinforced research cooperation emphasising the importance of basic research and outlining the conditions under which the creation of a European research council (ERC) could enhance scientific excellence.
EUROHORCs bring together the major publicly funded national research organisations in the EU Member States, with a limit of six per country. Its members are all institutions, and the representation of the member organisations is limited to the top executive level.
The declaration welcomes the 'trend towards the internationalisation of scientific research', which, it is claimed, 'has exerted a great influence on the research culture in Europe.' The EU's framework programmes are identified as having been decisive in intensifying European research cooperation.
EUROHORCs assert, however, that the nature of the framework programmes has led to science-driven and fundamental research being overlooked in all disciplines. The heads of Europe's research councils therefore believe that, if the creation of an ERC ensured added value in terms of enhanced research quality and impact, it could become 'a critical instrument for generic scientific excellence in Europe and thereby substantially add to the realisation of the ERA [European Research Area]'.
The declaration implies that such a body would have to be without political influence, when stating that 'science-driven research ought to be operationally independent from political bodies. Science is of critical importance for our societies and cultures, but it ought to have its free manoeuvre space to get the best results.'
EUROHORCs also express their wish to reinforce their contribution to the ERA and form a partnership with the activities of the European Commission and the framework programmes where appropriate. To read the EUROHORCs declaration, please visit: ftp://ftp.cordis.lu/pub/era/docs/eurohorcs_declaration_0503.pdf