Research ministers adopt declaration on role of science
European research ministers have made a commitment to increase investments in research and development (R&D) and create a culture of trust in scientists. The ministers were gathered in the Spanish town of San Sebastián for an informal meeting of the Competitiveness Council.
The delegates also unanimously adopted the Donostia Declaration, which Spain describes as 'a document that will launch the concept of a responsive and responsible science, capable of providing solutions in the short term'.
'All science, ranging from the humanities and social sciences to natural sciences, and from basic research to technological development, [has] something to contribute here and now,' stated Spanish Minister of Science Cristina Garmendia. The declaration explains that in addition to developing new products and services, research relies on advanced materials, equipment and infrastructures, much of which is supplied by European companies.
While noting that the quest for knowledge is 'a cornerstone of European culture', the declaration points out that science is also vital for addressing many of the challenges faced by society today. 'Many of these challenges - such as energy and climate change, healthcare and ageing populations - are of global scope and have a significant socioeconomic impact,' the declaration reads.
'European science wants to advance hand-in-hand with the people who finance it and who ultimately benefit from its insights, being concerned with the hard times the European economy is experiencing,' the declaration states, concluding that science is 'committed to achieving a more sustainable and knowledge-based economy'.
Integrating research into major policy areas is a priority for the Spanish Council Presidency. 'We see the European innovation plan and the launching of the 2020 Strategy as opportunities to place science and innovation firmly at the heart of Europe's future,' explained Ms Garmendia.
Another point on the agenda in San Sebastián concerned researchers' careers and mobility. Speaking before the meeting, Ms Garmendia said: 'We must put particular focus on recognising the social security entitlements of a group of people who are necessary in Europe and also inherently highly mobile.' European employment ministers will discuss researcher mobility at their next meeting in March.
The delegates also discussed the role that research should play in tackling poverty, another priority of the Spanish Council Presidency. 'The area between science and poverty must be more actively explored,' commented Ms Garmendia. She added that the European Commission is investigating the possibility of allowing Haitians to take part in Commission programmes.
The meeting in San Sebastián was attended by ministers from 10 nations (Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Spain); other countries sent deputy ministers. Spain will now work on the outcomes of this informal gathering in advance of the next formal meeting of the Competitiveness Council which will be held in Brussels, Belgium in early March.
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Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: Spanish Council Presidency
Document Reference: Based on information from the Spanish Council Presidency
Subject Index: Innovation, Technology Transfer; Coordination, Cooperation; Policies; Scientific Research