Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Research in Europe , 02.2009

Today:
  1. Commission's 'smart projects' plan divides the Union
  2. Commission to launch European Research Council review
  3. Europe-wide pension for researchers mooted
  4. EIT chief hits back at ‘monopoly’ criticism

Commission's 'smart projects' plan divides the Union


24 February 2009

A recent plan by the European Commission to allocate five billion euro of so-called "unspent EU money" to clean energy and broadband projects antagonised the bloc's foreign ministers yesterday (23 February) and embarrassed its initiators too, EurActiv has learned.

At yesterday's meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, foreign ministers even disagreed over what "geographic balance" implies, sources told EurActiv.

In the view of Western countries, the energy projects package presented by the EU executive is a "balanced" one. But for the richest countries, a balanced proposal implies that they get returns, in the form of projects, to match their bigger contributions to the EU budget.

Eastern countries have a different understanding. As one Bulgarian official put it, Sofia sees "no coherence, no balance and no policy" in the Commission's proposal. Bulgaria will push for a "geographic balance" in the allocations, he added, to make sure that "the lessons learned from the gas crisis are reflected in the final decision".

In fact, Bulgaria and Slovakia, the countries worst hit by the crisis, were allocated only modest sums under the EU executive's plans to reallocate five billion euro of unspent EU money (EurActiv 29/01/09). Under the proposal, Bulgaria was allocated €20m for the Haskovo-Commotini gas interconnection with Greece, and Slovakia €25m for the Velky Krtis-Ballasagyarmat interconnector with Hungary.

But this time around, Bulgaria's criticism was echoed by Greece, Portugal and Spain, all of which also saw the package as unfair.

Other Western countries are raising objections too. Britain is uncertain about the timeframe and believes that money could be committed by 2010, but not spent. Germany would like to see a different list of projects, and Belgium and Denmark are unhappy that projects for "smart energy cities” have been dropped, sources said.

The Commission, the initiator of the project, found itself under fire not only over the content of the proposals but also for not having secured financing, EurActiv revealed recently (EurActiv 19/02/09). Now, under pressure from Germany, Austria, the UK and the Netherlands, the EU executive has been forced to abandon its plans to use funding from the so-called 'margin' between the 2008 annual budget and the ceiling for the EU's long-term financial framework for 2007-2013. Instead, it will try to find the money from elsewhere. source

My comment: Well, people, it's now or never! I also support the Bulgarian opinion that the proposals are not fair. What's even worst, I find some of them absolutely stupid. Like the CCS ones. They are in the list probably only to regain the balance the Western countries are seeking. Don't get me wrong, I also think that the more you contribute, the more you should take, but there also must be a balance, otherwise, poor countries would never get a thing and they will remain poor. And that wasn't the point of the EU funds. And in the case with Bulgaria and Slovakia, I am actually very disappointed by the EC decision. Because this time, we really deserved those money. Check my post on the crisis for reference. It was really upsetting to see all the Western countries turning their back to Bulgaria and Slovakia. And it's not because they are not relying on Russian gas, but merely because they have another route to get the same Russian gas. Well, I hope next time Mr. Putin decides to be the severe master, to stop their gas for a change. Then, we'll talk.

Commission to launch European Research Council review

25 February 2009

EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik is to establish a high-level panel of experts to review the work of the European Research Council (ERC), it emerged yesterday (24 February).

Potočnik met experts from the EU and US, who are expected to be appointed to the review group by the Commission within days.

They will review the progress made by the ERC since its establishment in 2007 and provide advice on its future direction. Since the ERC's inception, the Council has considered some 11,000 grant applications and allocated over €850 million to 575 successful applicants.

The panel is expected to meet between February and July, and will draw up a report over the summer to enable the European Commission to offer an initial response in the autumn.

Commissioner Potočnik described the review of the ERC's structure as an important step in its development.

All the members of the review group have held senior positions in national government, research institutes or prestigious European academic establishments. source

My comment: All very nice, but what exactly senior positions in national governments have to with science??? I'm serious, I'm very glad to hear there is a development on ERC, because we'll I'm a scientist and I definitely would prefer European scientists to stay in Europe. But I don't like the way they are mixing science and politics. The ERC must be considered for the scientific results, for the correct allocation of funds and the clarity of its financial reports. And that's all.

Europe-wide pension for researchers mooted

13 February 2009

A pan-European pension fund for researchers and a system of "portable grants" are among a raft of new measures contained in a European Parliament report aimed at boosting scientists' career mobility.

The proposals are outlined in a report designed to make careers in research more attractive.

Member states and the Commission should also review the legal position of PhD students across Europe to assess whether a uniform PhD student status could be introduced under employment legislation, the committee said.

To boost mobility and exchange between scientists, the committee urges member states to introduce portable grants, which would allow researchers to conduct research in another member state if facilities are not available in their home universities or institutes.

They also propose a "research voucher" scheme, which would see research institutions and universities receive funding from another member state for hosting researchers from that country.

The report says the profile of scientific research in the general budget should be raised in order to achieve the target of training 600,000 more researchers, on average, by 2010. Member states must also encourage European scientists working outside the EU to return by increasing their salaries.

The report will be considered at the Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg in March. source

My comment: Everything sounds good to me. True, mobility in science is quite good even now, but the more the better. And the problem with the pensions is very important in every aspect of European economy. Because if you want people to be able to move feely, you must ensure them that their work will give them social benefits everywhere in the Union. And not the tons of problems they currently get when they work for a while somewhere and then they try to return home or to go somewhere else.

EIT chief hits back at ‘monopoly’ criticism

18 February 2009

The chairman of the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT), Martin Schuurmans, has denied claims by a leading academic that the institute's flagship innovation projects will become "monopolies of knowledge".

Speaking at the first of six European Policy Centre debates marking the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, Bengt-Åke Lundvall, a professor at the business studies department of Aalborg University in Denmark, compared the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) to Airbus, saying the lack of competition would lead to less innovation.

"I always criticise what I call Airbus Syndrome – the idea that if we put all our eggs in one basket, things go better than if we have competition. I completely disagree with this," he argued.

Schuurmans rejected this stinging criticism, insisting that KICs would lead to more efficient use of existing research activity by bringing together a critical mass of scholars, students and industry.

"Competition is essential. You will see this later in how we build the KICs. What I really want to ensure is that we stay away from thinly spread networks," he said, while stressing the EIT would be a catalyst for step-change in how the EU uses its innovation capacity.

"There is enough capacity in Europe. It's about using this capacity wisely in order to have maximum impact," he said. According to the EIT chair, the KICs will be "webs of excellence" and will include bringing scientists together onto a single site. Each community will have four to six "major nodes", where staff could come to work together face-to-face.

For each KIC, one of the participating research institutes could take the lead for a number of years and bring researchers to its campus. All universities involved in the KICs would benefit from more publications, research output and staff development.

KICs will have a lifetime of between seven and 15 years, and will spend a total of €50 million to €100 million per year. However, Schuurmans acknowledged that the EIT budget is lower than he would have liked.

In selecting the KICs early next year, the EIT will focus on sustainable energy, climate change and the information society. Schuurmans said the EIT was also under pressure to extend its remit to include healthcare and food. source

My comment: Lol at the airbus syndome. And on the "you'll see later". But I partly agree with the KIC's idea. Obviously comptetition is crucial, but we're in information age and there is so much research to be done, it's hard to imagine that could be done by one or even 10 people. We need that critical mass. On many places on the world. And we need the feeling of unification, because competition, as good as it is, transformed science into a mob. You can publish if you don't cite the bosses. Thus, you inevitably make their papers even more important. This isn't so bad, because good things are good. But citing becomes useless as a way to measure the quality of science. And that's not good! And one thing I don't like in KIC-the populism. How could EIT be under pressure to include food in research?! What foot?Oh, yes, food like in Sygenta. Well, thank you very much. I don't want my taxes to go for the next generation of GMo's polluting the Earth.

No comments:

 

blogger templates 3 columns