Brussels, 31 Mar 2004
The widely recognised Franco-German motor was given new impetus on 22 March, this time in the context of the European Research Area (ERA).
A cooperation agreement between France's National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), with a budget of 2.2 million euro for 2004, and Germany's Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Germany's largest research organisation with an annual budget of over one billion euro, cements a partnership that the European Commission will be hoping other organisations will emulate.
The agreement foresees a number of joint activities on a variety of levels, including the organisation of conferences and workshops, closer collaboration between research groups, scientific exchange programmes and the shared use of equipment and laboratories. Cooperation will be strengthened at all levels, from director level in the context of drawing up new international cooperation programmes, to laboratory level.
The CNRS-Fraunhofer accord is not the first Franco-German initiative in the field of research. The countries have created five joint graduate colleges, and are working on joint postgraduate courses and the closer networking of scientific spin-offs. In 2003 Germany's State Secretary at the Ministry for Education and Research, Wolf-Michael Catenhusen, promised that the two countries would be the motor for a European Higher Education Area.
Leaders from the two countries also collaborated on a proposal to stimulate growth in the EU. The Franco-German growth initiative was put forward at the same time as Commission President Romano Prodi's Initiative for Growth, which was later approved by the European Council.