Brussels, 01 Sep 2004
With its long tradition of investing in research and development (R&D), Sweden has an important role to play in reforming European research policy for the future, said Sweden's Minister for Education and Science, Thomas Östros, in an interview with CORDIS News. Mr Östros was speaking after the opening ceremony of the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF 2004) in Stockholm on 25 August.
According to the minister, an effective European research policy must go one step further and create a research body at European level. It must also include more investment in science, more cooperation between European countries and more regular platforms like ESOF to enable the research community to meet and discuss important issues.
'Commissioner Busquin has done a great job in reforming European science policy, but now we have to take the next step and form a European Research Council where we distribute money to the best and highest quality research product in Europe,' Mr Östros told CORDIS News. 'This is one of the most important issues we should concentrate on if we want European research to be able to compete internationally.'
European Research policy is becoming more and more important for individual countries and Sweden, which prides itself on being a country very much engaged in scientific issues, is keen to be very active in the reform process.
'This is especially so since our presidency [January to July 2001] started dealing with the Sixth Framework Programme [FP6]. We learnt a lot during that time and have strong views on how we would like to see the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7),' explained the Minister.
Although Sweden would perhaps like to see a few changes made to FP6, Mr Östros insisted that it is also important to make the best of FP6: 'There were some interesting changes in FP6 that we could elaborate on and use in the future,' said the minister.
Asked about the priorities of Sweden for the future, Mr Östros explained that a major priority is the creation of a European Research Council in order to cement an effective and competitive European research scene.
Mr Östros also referred to the importance of life sciences, which he predicts will become extremely important in the future.
In addition, said the minister, 'science and society' is a process that started in the last framework programme and which he believes must continue and be given strong support from the European Union.
Sweden will also be supporting the advance of research that is industry related, explained the minister. He used the example of biotechnology, which Sweden is using to develop one of its most important sectors, the forest industry.
'We would like to have a scale of measure on everything from life sciences to biotechnology and nanotechnology, but we are also devoted to developing a research-based industry,' concluded Mr Östros.
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