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More contacts is the key to success - Ostros speaks to CORDIS News

A wide net of contacts is the key to successful European research, indicated Sweden's Minister for Education and Science, Thomas Östros in an interview with CORDIS News. More contacts need to be established if mobility is to be realised and if the candidate countries are to t...

A wide net of contacts is the key to successful European research, indicated Sweden's Minister for Education and Science, Thomas Östros in an interview with CORDIS News. More contacts need to be established if mobility is to be realised and if the candidate countries are to take advantage of full participation in the framework programmes, said Mr Östros. He also stressed that Sweden had benefited significantly from contacts with Member States prior to accession in 1995. 'We had very good experiences of trying to learn from others when we became a new member and that is, I think, very important - to have good contacts with Member States that have been working with the framework programme for a long time. That is a good way of getting into the system,' he emphasised. He added that 'Sweden had much to learn from other more experienced countries' when it joined the EU. Mobility is also about contacts, both between individuals and groups, Mr Östros told CORDIS News. He stressed that this is more the case with researcher mobility than with student mobility, saying that 'when you're a student, you come much more anonymously into a big group, but if you're a researcher, you come into a very tight group.' This is an area where much stronger bridges have to be built between the candidate countries and the Member States, said Mr Östros. The Minister emphasised the importance of increasing mobility and urged the Member States to make it a priority. 'It is [...] up to each country to see to that we stimulate mobility. I think it should be in every young researcher's programme that as a post doc. you should really go abroad, to Europe or somewhere else. That is almost a prerequisite if you're going to be a successful researcher.' Sweden itself clearly has many successful researchers as it frequently fairs well in benchmarking activities. Mr Östros puts this down to Sweden's strong engineering tradition. Referring to the issue of contacts once more, Mr Östros also attributed Sweden's success to strong cooperation between universities and industry, pointing out that several Swedish pharmaceutical companies stem from universities. This cooperation is assisted in Sweden by the building of science parks next to universities, which has been a policy for 20 years now. Mr Östros is pleased with Sweden's performance whilst holding the EU Presidency. 'I think we will be able to show, both on the educational scene and the research scene, major steps forward,' he said. In terms of education, he is pleased with the progress made in taking the Bologna process forward as well as the advances in the field of student mobility. Exactly how much progress will be made under the Swedish Presidency in the shaping of Europe's future research policy will not become clear until the Research Council of 26 June. Mr Ostros however remains optimistic. 'We are going to take a major step, I hope, when it comes to reaching a consensus on the structure of the next framework programme, the priorities of the next framework programme and the instruments of the next framework programme.' 'We are aiming to have Presidency conclusions that will be a good basis for the Belgians to take on further,' he said. As Sweden currently holds the EU Presidency, an official Swedish position on the proposals for the next framework programme will not be published. 'Our own priorities are of minor importance at this stage,' he said. He admitted that Sweden does however have priorities, at the top of which is scientific quality. Openness and equal opportunities are also very important for his country, claimed the Minister. He hopes that the lack of clarity which is leading to concerns both in his own country and in others will be resolved.

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