Brussels, 01 Dec 2003
Ministers from the EU's acceding and candidate countries met with Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin on 28 November to discuss the results of the first calls for proposals under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The meeting gave ministers the opportunity to raise issues which they believe need addressing in future calls.
An evaluation of the results of the first calls for proposals shows that more effort is needed to increase the number of proposals coming from candidate and acceding countries. Only 12.7 per cent of the proposals submitted after the first round of calls originated from these countries.
While admitting that more needs to be done, Mr Busquin emphasised that this is already a 'considerable improvement' on the statistics for FP5, and illustrates that 'the efforts made by the accession and candidate countries with regard to awareness raising are bearing fruit.'
Work being done in these countries is not restricted to awareness raising. The Hungarian government is currently focused on transforming Hungary's supply-driven scientific infrastructure into a demand-driven system, explained Andras Siegler, Chief Advisor to Hungary's Minister for Education. This is being done with the restructuring of financing schemes, he said.
'There is a huge potential in the accession countries and it needs to be exploited in such a way that the whole European economy becomes competitive with regard to the US,' Mr Siegler summarised.
Speaking on behalf of Poland, Michal Kleiber, Minister of Science, emphasised that much experience has already been gathered in the acceding and candidate countries, and that they are not the Achilles' heel of EU research: 'We have weaknesses, but we very much believe that we will not export these weaknesses to other countries, but contribute to progress everywhere.'
Researchers from candidate and acceding countries were involved in 40 per cent of all proposals. The highest participation rates so far have been in nanotechnology; the information society; and sustainable development, global change and ecosystems. The lowest has been in aeronautics and space.
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