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French Prime Minister opens European Industrial Technologies Conference

Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, opened the major European conference on industrial and materials technologies, held in Toulouse, France, from 27 to 30 October 1997. He emphasized the importance of research for France and for Europe and the important role it could play...
Lionel Jospin, Prime Minister of France, opened the major European conference on industrial and materials technologies, held in Toulouse, France, from 27 to 30 October 1997. He emphasized the importance of research for France and for Europe and the important role it could play in creating jobs, and outlined his thoughts on the next Community research programmes.

Research has always been vital to France, from both a scientific and industrial point of view, he said, and the need for cross-border cooperation in research was paramount for Europe to maintain influence. The Community's next Framework Programme would play a considerable part in ensuring Europe can compete with its major rivals, in particular the USA, he continued. The Prime Minister also noted the need to develop more pan-European partnerships, along the lines of Airbus and Ariane, which have proved so successful.

Europe's major problem is unemployment. In recent years, Mr. Jospin noted, large numbers of new, skilled posts have been created in the USA thanks to new technologies. Europe should strive to do the same, orienting both innovation and technological development towards the creation of jobs, making use of measures at both national and European level. Research policy needs to be developed in tandem with technological innovation policies on a more general level, Mr. Jospin emphasized. Public policies in these areas should be both flexible and coherent, he said, with governments' primary duty the development of an environment and conditions to allow the realization of innovative projects. Developing such an environment would require:

- Bringing public research centres closer to industry and the commercial world;
- Orienting education and training more towards a scientific and innovative culture;
- Governments creating economic and financial conditions which support technological innovation;
- National and European regulatory frameworks to be adapted, creating instruments to promote and protect innovation.

Turning to the development of the Community's Fifth Framework Programme, Prime Minister Jospin noted that the effectiveness of Community research had in the past been limited by a dispersion of efforts. The Fifth Framework Programme, he said, should concentrate its resources for the benefit of scientific excellence, Europe's citizens and its competitiveness. It should be close to the citizen, accessible, efficient and flexible, he continued.

Concluding, he stressed that public measures could not stand alone, since they would be ineffective unless accompanied by a change in attitudes. In France, and in Europe, risk-taking - central to the activities of researchers and entrepreneurs - is still discouraged, he noted. Creating an innovation culture was the responsibility of individuals, although public authorities need to ensure that their initiatives are better recognized and supported, whilst giving reassurance that the inevitable failures will not disadvantage those who have taken the risks.

The conference, organized by the European Commission's Industrial and Materials Technologies (BRITE/EURAM) research programme, focused on the development of research policies in the 21st century, considering, in particular, the preparation of the EU's Fifth RTD Framework Programme. It also provided an opportunity to review the achievements of Community research in this field in the past ten years. Three major themes were explored, both in discussions and through demonstrations and exhibitions of successful projects:

- A better living and working environment;
- The factory of the future;
- New perspectives in aeronautics.

Source: European Commission

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