Scientists from the new EU Member States (EU13) agreed at the “Forum Future Europe” in Berlin to redefine the contribution of education, research and innovation to the advancement of Europe. The meeting took place at the invitation of the Leibniz Association and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.
In a Joint Communiqué, the signatories from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, argue that decisions on the future of the EU must be evidence-based. The research community should and will provide and better communicate scientific advice for such decisions.
The signatories express their firm opposition to a multi-speed Europe. Instead, all Member States need to intensify their efforts for a strong Europe based on clear rights and obligations. The EU must ensure its functional capacity and a modern administration on EU-level.
On the further development of the European Research Area, the signatories emphasise that excellence must be the leading evaluation criterion. Scientists, not politicians, should have the last word in R&I funding competitions. In addition, new instruments for the creation of networks should specifically fund the inclusion of less research-strong Member States, so that a Europe-wide networked scientific culture can thrive.
The next EU Framework Programme “Horizon Europe” should develop new efficacious measures to counteract swiftly and effectively the persisting gap between East and West, North and South, and the brain drain. For this, the signatories propose new personal funding instruments for brain gain towards and brain circulation within Europe. In order to ensure Europe’s global competitiveness, synergies between state-of-the-art research infrastructures and the stakeholders of the diverse European scientific landscape should be funded systematically.
For Leibniz-President Matthias Kleiner, “Forum Future Europe” has set an important signal: “In times, in which autonomy and freedom of science are questioned in some places, it is even more important that policy-making and science work together in a constructive dialogue for the further development of Europe. The EU’s integration effect should become visible particularly in the fact that we work together to strengthen the quality and excellence of research in the new Member States. European funding programs can play a decisive role here, but they must be shaped strategically.”
Leopoldina-President Jörg Hacker draws up a positive conclusion from the conference: “‘Forum Future Europe’ made two aspects clear: first, there is still plenty of need for discussion in Europe about education, research and innovation and after 15 years from the EU-enlargement, considerable disparities between East and West, North and South still remain. We must reduce these disparities. Second, the EU13 colleagues are well aware of their responsibility for the advancement of the EU as a whole. They have transmitted an undoubted message of cooperation readiness. Politicians and the general public need answers from scientists, for example in advising on thematic issues or in shaping education, research and innovation policy.”
The Leopoldina and the Leibniz Association organised “Forum Future Europe” based on their manifold relations with partners in the EU13 states. They invited to Berlin key stakeholders of the national science systems to develop a joint contribution, particularly to the forthcoming EU Framework Programme “Horizon Europe”.
Lucian Brujan, Senior Scientific Officer, Department of International Relations
German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
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