Brussels, 12 Sep 2005
Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik has told a conference on the European Charter and Code for Researchers that the immediate success of the two initiatives depends on the readiness of Member States and national research bodies to take them forward.
The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment were published by the Commission in March 2005. Both documents are designed to improve the working conditions and careers of scientists in Europe, and thus contribute to the objective of raising the number of qualified researchers working in the EU.
Speaking at the event organised by the UK Presidency in London on 8 September, Commissioner Potocnik said: '[I]f we are to develop growth and competitiveness, we need to invest more in education and training and in research and development, as well as innovation. One essential prerequisite is to have more well-trained researchers in the European Union. Without this, Europe will not be able to secure and expand its role in science, technology and innovation.'
While more researchers are educated in Europe than in the US and Japan, Mr Potocnik pointed out that there are only 6 researchers for every 1000 members of the workforce in Europe, compared with 9 in the US and 10 in Japan. This is because there is a tendency for trained researchers in Europe to move either abroad or into a business environment to pursue more attractive career opportunities, he said.
To address this situation, as well as raising Europe's research investment and enhancing public recognition of researchers' contribution to society, the Commission believes that conditions must be created within the EU which encourage researchers to remain in Europe, or to return after having gained experience abroad. It was in this context that the Charter and Code were published earlier in the year.
'These documents constitute another important target in our joint efforts towards developing and implementing an integrated European strategy for human resources in science and research,' explained Mr Potocnik. 'The Charter and the Code will give individual researchers the same rights and obligations wherever they may work throughout the EU. I am certain that if researchers are provided with a fair professional environment, it will create a more creative and better atmosphere for them and, consequently, enhance their research performance.'
He continued: '[F]or now it is the next step that is crucial: the application of the Charter and the Code. This does not and cannot solely depend on the Commission. It depends on the readiness and commitment of the Member States, the funding bodies, the research organisations and researchers themselves to carry this strategy forward.
'I therefore call upon all of you - as representatives of governments, higher education institutions, the business sector, the funding councils and research organisations - to make full use of the Charter and the Code and to transpose them into your own national, sectoral or institutional contexts,' concluded Mr Potocnik. 'I hope that this conference will represent a milestone for implementing these instruments and for pursuing our joint efforts to create a real European labour market for researchers in Europe.' To read the full text of Mr Potocnik's speech (in PDF format), please: click here