Proposed data changes ‘threaten’ EU research

The European University Association warns restrictions could cause continent’s scientists to fall behind global rivals

May 1, 2014

Data protection proposals being brought before the European Council of Ministers in June could hamper the continent’s research competitiveness, according to the European University Association.

The goals of the European Union’s €80 billion (£65 billion) research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020, such as tackling societal challenges and developing research infrastructures, could also be hit by the changes, the EUA said in a statement.

The amendments, suggested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) in October, are designed to tighten the rules that protect personal data. But they also “unintentionally threaten” scientific advances, according to the EUA.

The EUA is urging member states to preserve access to data for use in scientific research at the upcoming meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers that will discuss LIBE’s proposal.

More than 30 national bodies representing universities across Europe have signed the EUA statement, which follows arguments made by the Wellcome Trust in a petition in January.

The EUA says that the research tools used in the development of personalised medicines could be “severely compromised” by the changes. Also at risk are long-term studies such as the European Social Survey, which monitors social change across the continent, it adds.

The EUA explains that Europe’s universities are increasingly collaborating with organisations in other parts of the world. It calls for specific recognition of the value and need to transfer personal data internationally to maintain the “competitiveness of European research at a global level”.

“The strengthening of international research collaborations between universities is crucial for reaching Horizon 2020 goals and for addressing social challenges,” the statement says.

The European Parliament accepted the proposal that contained LIBE’s changes in March. The new regulation would replace a 1995 data directive, but has yet to be approved by EU ministers.

holly.else@tsleducation.com

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

International Student Support Assistant YORK ST JOHN UNIVERSITY
Senior Lecturer: Architecture (Cultural Content) NORWICH UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS
Head of Department of Physics ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY
Research Assistant LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest