Experts call for more funding for basic sciences

May 15, 2002

Brussels, 14 May 2002

A panel of 70 experts in science and science policy representing most European Union Member States and Estonia met in April to discuss the future directions of EU science policy.

In a statement delivered after the two-day seminar, the experts call for a wind change in science policy within the EU. They believe, in order to stimulate scientific innovation, more EU-funding needs to be directed towards basic research. "It is important to create conditions under which new discoveries can be made, innovative solutions found and long-term technical, scientific and social progress achieved," wrote a spokesperson from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences after the event. According to the experts, there has been an over-emphasis on funding for mission-oriented research and development.

How to compete with US

If the EU is to compete with the US and achieve the targets laid down at the Lisbon Summit - making Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world within ten years - the experts say a number of things need to happen.

First, more EU funding for basic research needs to be provided, with a peer-review selection process which would have a positive spin-off on the quality of nationally funded research.

Second, greater Europe-wide cooperation must be encouraged to meet the high costs of major research investments (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research and European Molecular Biology Organisation were offered as positive examples of this).

Third, an effort should be made to bridge the gap between different Member States' basic research, R&D and scientific output. Last, the experts believe it is important to create a suitable organisational infrastructure to further promote discussion on these issues.

These ideas are very much in line with what was envisaged by Commissioner Busquin for the European Research Area put forward two years ago. More recently, Mr Busquin's proposal that the EU should increase its investments in research up to 3% of GDP by 2010 has been endorsed by the European Council of heads of state and government held in Barcelona on 15 and 16 March 2002.

Source: The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

More information on this subject:

The Danish Research Agency has issued an invitation to science representatives from all Member organisations to discuss the organisation of future work in this area. The meeting is planned for October 2002.

Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.