The European Science and Technology Assembly held its first meeting this year in Brussels on 5-6 April. This was attended by Mrs. Edith Cresson, the Commissioner responsible for science, research and development, and education and training. She outlined her objectives and thoughts on European research and training policy and on the questions addressed in the course of the Assembly's work. Mrs. Cresson, addressing the Assembly for the first time, examined the major gaps in research and rigidities in training systems in Europe, and the important need to increase coordination between the research efforts at European level and within each Member State. The European Science and Technology Assembly was set up by the European Commission, on an initiative from Professor Antonio Ruberti, Mrs. Cresson's predecessor, on 15 March 1994 to ensure a direct, permanent link between the Commission, the scientific community and the world of industrial research, a link which had been missing until then. The Assembly consists of 100 members, appointed by the Commission in a personal capacity, in some cases on a proposal from the leading European scientific and industrial research organizations (European Science Foundation, the Academia Europea, ALLEA, the European Vice-Chancellor's Conference, Euro-Case, EIRMA, IRDAC, UNICE, European Round Table, CERN, ESA, ESO, ESRF, European Trade Union Federation and CODEST). It brings together leading representatives of the scientific community, including six Nobel Prize winners, heads of numerous European and national research centres and heads of research departments in major industrial groupings. The Assembly performs two types of activity: - At the request of the Commission, the Assembly gives opinions on the criteria and methods used to assess research proposals and the work programmes of the specific programmes; - On its own initiative, it gives opinions on different aspects of RTD policy or developments in science and technology in Europe and in the rest of the world. The current Chairman of the Assembly is Mr. J. Borgman, formerly President of the Netherlands National Research Council (NWO). The two Vice-Chairmen are Prof. H. Danielmeyer, member of the Board of Directors of Siemens (Germany) and Prof. D. Donnelly of University College Dublin (Ireland) and Vice-Chairman of the European Science Foundation.