Public Release: 

European research policy for a more competitive Europe and better quality of life

Towards a coherent European S&T enterprise

European Commission's Research Directorate-General

In the field of science and research the European Union (EU) is on the move towards the creation of the European Research Area (ERA). ERA is a broad vision for research in Europe, aimed at better co-ordination, more co-operation and improved complementarity of policies and programs of all relevant actors and institutions.

The EU's objective is to contribute to the competitiveness of European industry and to improve the quality of life of its citizens. To reach these objectives significant resources are mobilized through the Framework Program. The budget for the current Framework Program (2002-2006) is €17.5 billion (approx. $19 billion over 4 years). Under the Framework Program public and private research institutions can put forward proposals for research projects, in which teams from different countries join forces to build up the necessary "critical mass" and produce high quality research results. Successful proposers can receive up to 50% funding from the European Commission, which manages the Framework program.

An enlarged Europe for Research
The EU currently counts 15 Member states , a number which is set to increase to 25 in 2004. However, the 10 new member states , three further candidate states and a number of other associated states are already fully involved in the European Union's joint research effort - the Framework program. But European research co-operation is not limited to actors from the European continent.

European programs open to US and other countries
EU research activities are becoming more and more open to the participation of laboratories from other counties. The European Union has a number of Science and Technology Agreements with other counties including the United States and Canada. For the US the agreement is in force since 1998 and is due for renewal in 2003. This provides a valuable means to support scientific co-operation across the Atlantic. Thus, US-based scientists can participate in research projects under the current Framework program. Indeed there are already many cases of European and US research teams collaborating to achieve significant advances.

Under the previous framework program (1999-2002) there are over 150 research projects in which US teams participate, mainly in information technology, life sciences, environment and new materials. This figure is expected to grow in the Sixth Framework program.

One recent example comes from multiple sclerosis research where a Danish-led team working with teams in Sweden, the UK and in the US was recently rewarded by the prestigious Descartes prize for collaborative research.

Challenges for European science
Europe is committed to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society by 2010. For this to become a reality, several big challenges have to be taken up. One of them is to increase substantially R&D investment in Europe from its present level of 1.9% to 3% of GDP by 2010. A further challenge is to improve and strengthen co-ordination of the S&T policies of EU Member states by implementing the European Research Area (ERA). Another is the integration of 10 new member states from central and southern Europe. Other critical challenges include fostering the relationship between science and society and enabling sustainable development.


For more information visit the European Commission - booth #612 - in the exhibition area.

For more about the Sixth Framework program:

For more on the Descartes prize:

1. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom.
2. Cyprus, the Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and the Slovak republic.
3. Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.
4. Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

For further information:
Visit our web site:
Stéphane Hogan, Press Officer, DG Research, European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.
Tel. at AAAS conference: 917-681-90 05
In Brussels (after 19 February): 011-32-2-296-2965

Notes for editors:
What is the European Commission?
The European Commission (EC) is the executive arm of the European Union (EU) institutions and embodies the general interests of the EU. It proposes policies and legislation and implements the measures decided by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. It is politically answerable to Parliament. Its responsibilities include policy areas such as trade, competition, agricultural policy and economic development, but also research, public health and humanitarian aid. The Commission departments responsible for the various policy areas are called Directorates-General (DG).

Achilleas Mitsos
Achilleas Mitsos, of Greek nationality, is the Director-General of the Research Directorate-General at the European Commission since June 2000. After completing studies at the Athens School for Economics and Business Sciences in 1970, he studied in the United States and obtained a M.A. and a Ph. D in Economics at the University of Pittsburgh, (Pennsylvania). Back in Greece, he became Head of Department on European Community issues at the Bank of Greece and was advisor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs while teaching on a temporary appointment as professor of International Economics at the Department of Economics at the University of Athens.

From 1985 to 1988 he was Head of Cabinet for Mr Varfis, Member of the Commission of the European Communities responsible for the coordination of structural policies and consumer protection. From 1988 to 2000, he held various positions at the European Commission as Director at the Directorate-General for Coordination of Structural Funds, Director for Vocational Training, at the Directorate-General for Education, Training and Youth, and Director for Human Potential at the Research Directorate-General.

Achilleas Mitsos is also the author of many articles and three books on European integration. He has been giving a series of lectures, seminars etc on European issues in various European universities. He is a Robert Schuman Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.