Europe and Basic Research ­ Council Conclusions (Extract from: Provisional Version, Competitiveness Council, 11 March)

March 12, 2004

Brussels, 11 Mar 2004

The Council, following an exchange of views on Europe and basic research during which it was agreed to return to this issue following further input from the Commission, adopted the Conclusions set out below:



  • The Commission Communication of January 2000 on the European Research Area;
  • The conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of March 2000 which set a strategic goal for the European Union to become the most competitive knowledge based economy by 2010;
  • Council Resolutions of 15 June 2000 on Establishing a European area of research and innovation and of 16 November 2000 on Making a reality of the European area of research and innovation;
  • Council conclusions of 26 November 2002 on progress made in the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and on providing it with new momentum;
  • The Commission Communication of 5 February 2003 on The role of the universities in the Europe of knowledge which examines the place and role of the European universities in society and in the knowledge economy;
  • The Council resolution of 22 September 2003 on "Investing in research for European Growth and Competitiveness" which recognises that fundamental research is crucial for the sustainable development of the knowledge based society;
  • The Resolution of the European Parliament of 18 November 2003 on Investing in research;

  • The role of international and European scientific cooperation frameworks in promoting basic research, and the recent work undertaken by various high level and scientific groups on furthering excellence of basic research in Europe;
  • The High Level Dublin Castle Symposium, held on 16/17 February 2004, on "Europe's Search for excellence in basic research" which, inter alia, recognised that there is a clear challenge for Europe to enhance its levels of creativity and excellence in basic research in the context of global competition and called for a European initiative to promote excellence in basic research; NOTES that the symposium took the view that such an initiative would require a specific funding within the 7th Framework Programme, and could imply a new mechanism which should have the full confidence and involvement of the scientific communities and be characterised by minimum bureaucracy;
3. ACKNOWLEDGES that the main objective of high quality basic research is the development and enhancement of knowledge, thereby contributing to the advancement of science and to promoting sustainable economic development, competitiveness and employment in the knowledge based economy; ACKNOWLEDGES also the positive impact that high quality basic research will have on society as a whole; REAFFIRMS therefore the importance of reinforcing support, also with the involvement of the private sector, to basic research in the context of the European Research and Innovation Area;

4. WELCOMES the fact that the Commission, in its Communication "Europe and Basic research", examines the impact of basic research on the competitiveness, growth and quality of life in Europe and puts forward suggestions for exploring the means of strengthening Europe's performance in basic research;

5. RECOGNISES the need to:

  • continue to work to improve the climate for the development of science and research careers in Europe and the key role of basic research in training researchers;
  • stimulate research excellence of world class quality in Europe in a wide range of sectors and disciplines, including social sciences and humanities, by encouraging more competition in science-driven research at European level selected on the basis of excellence;
  • improve the exploitation of results of basic research by supporting transfer of knowledge between researchers, centres of excellence and enterprises, with particular reference to the role of universities, as well as within society as a whole;
  • coordinate, on a voluntary basis, resources, approaches and instruments and to encourage cooperation with the best in the world to strengthen basic research at the European level, and to add value to existing national approaches wherever possible;
6. ACKNOWLEDGES therefore the need, in the context of the preparation of the next research framework programme and taking into account an analysis of the respective merits of existing national approaches and a possible European initiative, to examine the case for specific funding within that Programme to support basic research of the highest quality. At the same time, an appropriate balance should be maintained with other priorities, approaches and activities in research, technological development and innovation;

7. NOTES the intention of the Commission to bring forward, by May 2004, an initiative on operational mechanisms which should add value to existing national approaches and provide a European dimension, with the objective of reinforcing the creativity and excellence of basic research in Europe, through encouraging more competition at the highest European level amongst individual research teams while enhancing cooperation between national programmes." .pdf

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