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COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL : SCIENCE AT HEART OF UNION'S AGENDA.

Meeting in San Sebastian (Donostia), from 7 to 9 February, the EU's ministers in charge of competitiveness presented the Donostia declaration', on 8 February, calling for a responsible science policy in the context of the crisis, capable of contributing short-term solutions. The science and innovation ministers of Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Norway are participating in this meeting chaired by Spanish Minister Cristina Gamendia. The other delegations are represented mostly by deputy ministers.

PRINCIPAL CONCERN: RECOVERY

The first session focused on current challenges related to the launch of the European Research Area (ERA) and the role science can play in recovery and economic growth. Three key points were on the agenda: integration, involvement and inclusion. The first aims to give the ERA institutional influence without creating more bureaucracy but aimed on the contrary at promoting mobility, facilitating researchers' careers and guaranteeing their labour rights. The second concerns giving impetus to the social dimension of science, with a view to encouraging research to get involved in the fight against poverty. The last point concerns the goal of building a science system capable of operating EU-wide in a coordinated and effective way.

OTHER PROBLEMS

Although economic recovery is the most urgent challenge, other problems exist, including the drive to develop new sources of energy, climate change, the ageing of the population and health. These are also included in the Donostia declaration, which highlights the need to act on all these fronts. European science needs a faster and simpler system. The Spanish science minister said the EU Presidency aims with this meeting to "encourage certain aspects that will make the European Research Area more visible in areas like mobility, researchers' careers and protection of their labour rights in their professional activity, as stated by the European Research Charter". The theme of researchers' mobility, on which there is broad consensus among the member states, will be presented at the Employment Council next March, she said. The minister added that she is intent on making advances in management of the joint use of research infrastructures, a vital condition for ambitious European research projects. In her view, giving impetus to development of the ERA would be a perfect illustration of the European countries' commitment to building a better Europe.

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Publication:Europe Environment
Date:Feb 19, 2010
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