Brussels, 02 May 2005
There is strong conformity between Norwegian and EU focus areas in terms of future research for the same time frame, believes Norwegian State Secretary for Education and Research, Bjørn Haugstad.
Speaking at a recent Norwegian ERA-Forum on the European Commission's proposals for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), Mr Haugstad welcomed the fact that the Norwegian government's new White Paper on Norway's research priorities does not contradict the FP7 proposals.
In a parallel to the Commission's proposal, the Norwegian government has decided that public funding for research and development 'should increase from NOK 36 to 50 billion (630 million euro) beginning in 2006,' said Mr Haugstad. 'Norway must participate in the EU's Framework Programme,' he added. 'Therefore it is positive that there are no major conflicts in the EU proposal for the Framework Programme when compared to priorities in the White Paper.'
Norway's ERA-Forum, which was set up in 2003 to provide a meeting place for participants to make suggestions for integration and structure within the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is now focused on putting forward proposals on FP7 during the EU's decision-making process. Norway is the first European country to gather representatives from universities, research institutions, authorities and business to discuss FP7.
The Forum identified clear parallels between FP7 and the Norwegian research proposals in central areas, such as innovation and development in businesses, quality in basic research, the focus on human resources, as well as a significant correlation in thematic priorities.
'We should have the best qualifications, both to strengthen our national research more and to develop a whole strategy for a best possible correlation between national focus and our engagement in research cooperation within the EU,' said Mr Haugstad, who noted however that the Commission receives many suggestions. 'We have to think about how we present our proposals so they are put aside to be read again because they are special and interesting,' he added.
Mr Haugstad remarked that the Norwegian White Paper has more focus on what Norway refers to as 'oceans, energy and knowledge society'. 'In the [Commission's ] proposal, these areas are taken care of in various degrees, and we have not successfully managed to include marine research as a separate area. It is important that we continue the work of giving marine research [...] a clearer focus,' emphasised Mr Haugstad.
Food and environment, two other areas of particular importance to Norway, are also not given particular emphasis in the Commission's proposal, noted the ERA-Forum, which stated that it will put forward proposals aimed at strengthening the Norwegian research in the focus areas of FP7. //CPA