Brussels, 06 Jun 2003
It is thanks to its universities that Europe is in the position it is today, claimed EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin on 5 June.
Speaking at Geneva University, Mr Busquin said that none of the innovation displayed today in Europe would have been possible without basic research, carried out almost exclusively by universities.
''The living spirit' of universities has allowed Europe to become what it is. It has played a determining role in the development of civilisation and of European culture, of modern science in Europe, and its application in industry,' said Mr Busquin.
The Commissioner added that universities not only played an important role in the history of Europe, but will have a vital role in its future: 'Today, universities largely represent the key to the full development in Europe of the economy and society of knowledge.'
Mr Busquin referred to basic research as the cornerstone of the knowledge economy, and expressed regret at the lack of resources in Europe in comparison with its main competitor, the United States. More support at European level, he said, would facilitate cooperation and the diffusion of excellence.
Europe's universities are, however, facing difficulties, particularly in relation to competition with their US counterparts and an increased numbers of students. Such challenges require changes, which are not always compatible with traditional structures, said Mr Busquin. He claimed that the best way in which to tackle these challenges is to address them at European level as 'all these questions have a strong European dimension.'