'Success through Research' to be Presidency motto, says Schavan

'Success through Research' will be the motto of German Minister for Education and Research, Annette Schavan, as she chairs the EU's Competitiveness Council until the end of June, she announced to MEPs on 30 January.

The 'tasks at hand' for Ms Schavan and her colleagues include: renewing the European Research Area (ERA); getting agreement on the use of Article 169 (allowing the Community to participate in activities undertaken jointly by several Member States) and Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs); holding an open dialogue on the proposed European Institute of Technology (EIT); and the revision of the EU budgets for 2008. Giving an indication of the difference that the German Presidency intends to make, the minister said: 'We cannot increase our international competitiveness if we do not improve the climate for research and innovation. We therefore need a change of mentality.'

'My aim is to further enhance conditions for research and innovation in Europe,' the Ms Schavan told the Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee. Together with the Commission, the Presidency therefore intends to 'renew' the ERA. This new ERA will deal 'more intensively with the coherence of national and European research facilities and promoting the development of modern European basic research'. The main focus for 2007 will be the implementation of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), said the minister. Although the programme is now up and running, a number of policy and legal decisions must still be taken. These include the allocation of EU funding to joint Member State programmes under Article 169 of the Treaty, and decisions on Joint Technology Initiatives. The Presidency is expecting to receive proposals from the Commission on both issues in March or April.

Discussions on the proposal to establish a European Institute of Technology are making good progress, said Ms Schavan. 'The process is not about establishing an isolated green-field institution, but exclusively about launching a truly 'European Flagship of Innovation'. Ladies and gentlemen, a flagship leads other ships. It does not remain on its own. Success or failure of the initiative considerably depend on the right choice of partners and the topics of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (the network that will make up the EIT),' the minister told MEPs. The EIT should be 'more than just a correctly implemented Commission proposal because this proposal is simply far too important', she said. The Presidency would like to ensure that all existing gaps in the initiative are filled rapidly, including questions on costs and funding. 'The democratic spirit and customs in the EU require that the Council and the Parliament are involved or participate in all fundamental decisions,' said Ms Schavan.

The German Council Presidency will therefore conduct an 'intensive and open dialogue' on the best form for the EIT, the most appropriate instruments, and the funding options. Also on the horizon is the revision of the EU budgets for 2008. This should be regarded as an opportunity for research, according to Ms Schavan. But the EU should not rely on the framework programmes alone to fund European research. The minister called for funding for research infrastructures to be made available through the Structural Funds. Germany also intends to promote support for young talents, and improve the management of intellectual property rights (IPR). An initiative for a 'CHARTA for dealing with intellectual property' will be launched before July.

The minister finished with the words of Germany's first post-war Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who once said: 'The unity of Europe was the dream of a few. It has become the hope for many. And today it is the necessity for all.'

For further information on the research activities of the German Presidency, please consult the link above.

Source: CORDIS

inserted by Florian GRUBER on 2007-02-06 09:26:49