Scientists' entente cordiale in Paris

May 27, 2005

Scientists from the ten newest members of the European Union are opening a dialogue with their French counterparts.

Representatives of the academies of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia met the Academy of Sciences of the Institute of France earlier this month, one year after their countries' accession to the EU. Cyprus and Malta, which have no equivalent body, were each represented by one scientist.

During the two-day meeting, participants discussed inter-academy and European scientific co-operation, physics, neurosciences and life sciences.

Among subjects debated during a forum on Europe were the European Research Area, the European Research Council, diffusion of knowledge and brain drain.

A member of the French academy told The Times Higher that the meeting had produced "many constructive suggestions". Problem areas for new member states included low-quality evaluation procedures, "a weak international impact factor" and lack of access to large-scale facilities.

The visitors also met directors of France's big research organisations including the CNRS, the multidisciplinary National Scientific Research Council; medical research institute Inserm; the agronomic research institute Inra; and the atomic energy agency CEA. The French organisations signed new agreements with some of the visiting delegates.

These include a joint programme between Inra and the Szeged Biotechnology Centre in Hungary on interactions between plants and microorganisms; French-Polish laboratories researching carbon and catalytic materials for the environment; a project on the trans-Danube region from the 5th to 9th centuries between the CNRS and the Czech Institute of Archaeology in Brno; and a pharmacological and toxicological study between the University of Paris-5 and Riga Medical Faculty in Latvia.

Details: www.academie-sciences.fr

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