Brussels, 14 Nov 2002
High level research representatives from around the world called on the Commission to increase its cooperation with non-European and developing countries at the FP6 launch conference in Brussels on 13 November.
Senior international figures gathered to discuss the global context of European research, and all stressed the importance of joint initiatives as a tool for global economic and social development. Many of the speakers highlighted the progress that has already been achieved in a number of areas through participation in EU funded projects, and signalled their intent to increase cooperation under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Certain speakers, however, urged the Commission to do more to facilitate research partnership with the developing world in a bid to tackle major problems such as poverty, food shortage and ill health. Ben Ngubane, South African Minister for Art, Culture, Science and Technology, applauded the Commission for its continued collaboration on international development initiatives, but said 'I cannot conceal my disappointment at the reduction of funds dedicated to cooperation activities with developing countries under FP6.'
The Minister added that he hoped this reduction would be offset by willingness on the part of the Commission to promote the inclusion of partners from the world's poorer nations in the networks of excellence and integrated projects set up as part of the new framework programme.
Dr Wang Shaoqi, Minister-Councillor at the Chinese Embassy in Paris, said that as part of China's efforts to participate in FP6, the new framework programme was the subject of an advertising campaign in several major Chinese cities. He expects existing cooperation to increase under FP6, due to close synergies between the thematic priorities of the new framework programme and China's own research priorities.
The main obstacles to Chinese participation, according to Dr Shaoqi, are 'the complexity of EU funding and administration procedures,' and the difficulty in finding EU project partners. Dr Shaoqi was positive about the prospect of future collaboration though, and was also keen to highlight the opportunities for European researchers to participate in Chinese funded programmes.
Speaking on behalf of researchers from Latin America, Professor Santiago Carrasco from Ecuador's National Secretariat of Science and Technology, said that 'research cooperation must target thematic priorities of mutual interest to the EU and Latin America,' and that 'the time has come to redouble our cooperative efforts on research on both sides of the Atlantic.'