Welcome to the CORDIS Web service of the Sweden Council Presidency of the EU (July - December 2009)
Sweden is taking over the Presidency of the EU at a time filled with great challenges. The financial crisis and the economic downturn affect the everyday life of people in Europe and the rest of the world. Climate change and environmental threats raise the issue of what measures are needed for sustainable development. People’s health and welfare are general political priorities requiring continual attention and changes in the initiatives taken in response to them.
It is my conviction that the economic, ecological and social challenges now facing Europe will benefit from being dealt with not just as problems, but also as opportunities. Crises can generate creative processes that ultimately lead to something new and better.
Research, development and innovation will play a key role when it comes to society’s capacity to find solutions to the challenges that Europe has to deal with. New knowledge and its application create opportunities for development beyond the problems that are currently affecting our lives.
One of the issues that the Swedish Presidency has chosen to prioritise involves governance of the European Research Area (ERA). The vision adopted of the ERA in 2020 provides a clear destination for the journey, but the question is how we can see things through to achieve our common goals. Member States, the Commission, universities, research institutions, industry and other stakeholders must work together in a carefully considered manner for the vision to be realised.
Another priority involves the direction of the forthcoming programmes for research and development. What is the best way for EU-funded research to respond to the enormous challenges facing society? Since the timetable for the seventh framework programme has been extended, there is now time for a thorough discussion of future programmes.
Thirdly, the Swedish Presidency wants to make a contribution to the forthcoming European innovation plan by raising the issue of pro-innovation research policies. Research-based innovation is an important component of innovation policy and initiatives implemented in the policy areas of research, innovation and higher education need to be coordinated.
I am hopeful that the Swedish Presidency priorities will draw attention to the political hopes we have for research, development and innovation in helping to deal with the major challenges facing us at present and in the future. The political task, at both the national and European levels, will therefore be to create the best possible conditions for these important activities for Europe’s development.