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Human and social sciences research: Parliamentary question

A written question addressed by a Member of the European Parliament to the Commission of the European Communities, now published in the Official Journal, concerns steps the Commission intends to take towards the introduction of a specific programme of research in the field of ...
A written question addressed by a Member of the European Parliament to the Commission of the European Communities, now published in the Official Journal, concerns steps the Commission intends to take towards the introduction of a specific programme of research in the field of human and social sciences as part of the Fourth Framework Programme of Community RTD (1994-1998).

Such a programme was recommended in a study drawn up by the European Science Foundation, at the request of Directorate-General XII, on social sciences in the context of the European Community. This view was also supported in the conclusions of a memorandum issued by the DG XII Interservice Group on Social Sciences and Technology.

Replying for the Commission, Professor A. Ruberti, Commission Vice-President responsible for Research, Training and Youth, noted that in recent years the social sciences have featured more prominently in the Community's RTD activities. For example:

- The human capital and mobility programme has devoted around 10% of its budget to the social sciences;

- The environment programme has a special subprogramme, SEER, for socio-economic research;

- Research activities with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe have devoted around 10% of their budget to the social sciences;

- Six concerted COST actions have been supported in the social sciences.

Furthermore, the FAST programme (Forecast and Assessment in Science and Technology) has applied, since its start in 1978, social science research for developing global long-term scenarios on science, technology and society.

For the future, the Commission intends to give the social and economic sciences a higher profile. The working paper on the Fourth Framework Programme suggested for the first time specific core research themes with an important social scientific content, in particular those dealing with the urban environment and the phenomenon of social exclusion. Social sciences also play a central role in connection with actions to improve the relationship between the RTD system and society and to evaluate the impact of science and technology on society. More information on these themes are contained in a Commission working document (COM(93) 158).

Generally, the Commission seeks to ensure that socio-economic factors and needs, alongside those of the market, are taken into account in the determination of research priorities and in the assessment of the impact of scientific and technological developments on the whole fabric of the economy, industry and society.
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