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Inicio arrow newsitems arrow Strasbourg's European Science Foundation a key for EU Research "Joint" Programs ?

Strasbourg's European Science Foundation a key for EU Research "Joint" Programs ?

Escrito por ACM

A new role by Strasbourg-based "European Science Foundation" (ESF)'s can become key for Research funding in the EU in future, sooner than expected, revealed a Hearing on "Joint Research Programming" organized at EU Parliament by the Chairwoman of the EP Committee on Industry, Telecom, Research and Energy, German MEP Angelika Niebler.


Despite the growing importance of Innovation in Global competition, RST funding in the EU rather "decreased" during the last 6 Years, except in a few Memer Countries, such as Esthonia (No 1 among the 27 in RST funds' growth). Added to the fact that EU already used to spend comparatively less than its main competitors in RST, is new US President Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan which reserves, out of 700 Billions $ in total, more than 10 Billions $ in RST.

Europe can only meet today's challenges if it succeeds to mobilize and coordinate together its National Research Programs, since 85 % of RST Public Funding in the EU is made through National channels.

"Joint programming (by grouped EU Member States) could become at least as important as the (EU's) Framework programme", stressed EU Commissioner for Research, Jan Potocnik, who launched since the 2nd half of 2008 a call "towards Joint Programming in Research" (JPR) as a New European method of "working together to tackle common challenges more effectively", echoeing several appeals from EU Council and Parliament.

As Institutional tool, EU Treaty's Article 169 allows EU Commission to participate in Research programms jointly decided y many EU Memer States, if EU Parliament approves it. Coordination is obviously needed to establish a coherent approach with cross-border results.

But the right instruments have yet to be developed in Europe, as indicated the presence of representatives from EU Commission's, the Economic and Social Committee,  and of a "High Level Group" on Joint Programming, etc. in Strasourg's EU Parliament's hearing.

In this relation, Strasbourg-based "European Science Foundation' (ESF)'s recent Strategy, after some 35 Years of Experience, to shift the focus from EU Research (closely followed in the Past, f.ex. via EU Parliament's Rapporteur Linkohr, etc), towards fostering a common overall view and Networking among EU Member States' National Research Programms, to advance RST and explore New directions at European level, fits well the new trend. But today, this is currently accentuated and accelerated by the urgent need to find efficient replies to the Economic Crisis, able to guarantee also the Future, mainly through Innovation.

Significantly, the key-Expert who introduced at EU Parliament's Hearing was a Professor of Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic (the 2009 EU Chair), who is, at the same time, a long-time member of Strasbourg's ESF...

Original features of JRP is that funding sources are always Public, between EU Member States, without being obligatory, and that it doesn't necessarily need participation of all 27 EU Member States, while remaining "open" to all those willing to join.

Identifying jointly agreed Priorities among a wide spectrum of RST areas, is obviously a key issue, as already indicated the presence, at EU Parliament's Hearing, f.ex.  of an "Alzheimer JP pilot", and of the "Advisory Council for Aeronautics research in Europe" (ACARE), etc.

ESF's latest "Strategic Plan", a precious overall view on all RST projects' areas in Europe, regroups most of them inside large Bio-Science and Earth-Science poles (including International Law, Aero-Space, etc). 

Indicating the currently growing importance of the latter, ESF has just chosen as its new Director of Science and Strategy Development, Dr. Marc Heppener (Dutch) from the European Space Agency (ESA).


Heppener's most urgent tasks include the preparation of ESF's New overall Strategic Plan for 2011-1015, to update the current tool which ends in one year (2010).

Experienced at the "interplay between Science and Politics" at an European/International level,  ESF's new Strategy Development Director wants to stimulate "joint use of the Financial and Political clout" of ESF's 80 Member Organizations from 30 Countries, in order to "contribute strongly to the overall European research potential".

However, a current Geo-Political Problem for ESF is that, curiously, while it includes not only EU and EFTA Countries, (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland), but even Turkey, on the contrary, it doesn't yet include European Countries such as Latvia and Malta (EU Members), Serbia and Ukraine (important for several Technologies), nor Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, etc. Furthermore, opposite to earlier trends, it also doesn't include Russia.

This obviously unbalanced situation might either incite the ESF to review its structure's core, or give the focus to EU's European Research Council (ERC) and various other EU satellite bodies to activate  and boost Joint Programming in the European Research Area (ERA).

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They voted to "freeze" UK Government's draft to put People in jail for 42 Days on "anti-terrorist" suspicion without charge, or they abstained. Don't they look suspect ?

CoE's debate on UK controversy stirs PanEuropean check of anti-terror suspects' imprisonment

Former Leftists of the Sixties would boil in hot water if they heard PACE's debate on the controversial 42 days detention without charge, currently drafted by the British Government :

A "Socialist" Government, a Socialist PACE Rapporteur and a Socialist Chair of PACE's Legal Committee, opposed a .. "Conservative" amendment (supported by .. Liberals, Democrats, etc), to freeze the measure, in order to protect Citizens' Freedom, by "waiting" until CoE's Venice Committee checks its conformity with Human Rights' principles.

"Left"'s support to Conservative-Lib.Dem's criticism, wasn't enough to obtain a majority, nor to make things as they were back in the good old days, when "Left" and "Right" had a clear meaning, as "liberty" and "restrictions"...

Conservatives and most Democrats were joined by the Left in voting for the "freeze", as well as Liberal Paul Rowen, while Socialist MEP Ivan Popescu, an experienced MEP from Ukraine (PACE Member since 1996-2008) abstained. But most Socialists, added to a few Liberals and EPP's Right, voted against.

Fortunately, someone inside PACE had the wise idea to shorten the Debate for less than 1 Hour, and put it on the Agenda only at the end of an exceptionally busy day, towards the end of the Evening, when most MEPs had already gone to taste wins and foods at various Receptions all around Strasbourg's "European" area : As a result, not even 42 MEPs weren't present..

Socialist Lord Tomlinson accused the leaders of the PanEuropean Assembly, in its highest body : the "Bureau", to "lack wisdom" by deciding to hold a Debate on an issue that neither the Socialist Chair of the Legal Committee, nor its Socialist "reluctant Rapporteur", did "not want to do", ...


Finally, everybody (critics and supporters alike) was happy to agree, in substance, that the controversial measure "may" gravely violate Human Rights, and therefore, PACE asked Legal Experts of Venice Commission to check UK Government''s plans.

But this might take more than .. 42 Days to do, since PACE's Rapporteur asked the Experts to enlarge their study in a PanEuropean comparison of all that is happening on "anti-terrorism" legislation in 47 CoE Member Countries, including Russia, Turkey and Azerbaidjan..

Bad lack : "The existing 28 days’ detention without charge in the UK is, in comparison with other CoE member countries, one of the most extreme : In Turkey, the period is 7,5 days, in France 6 days, in Russia 5 days, and in .. the U.S. and Canada just 2 and 1 days respectively", denounced Democrat MEP Ms WOLDSETH from Norway..


"Numerous respected human rights organisations, including Liberty and Human Rights Watch, have expressed serious concern" "The proposed legislation ...could easily lead to extensive abuses. ...Detention for 42 days means six weeks in which one is taken away from one’s family, friends, home and livelihood only to be let off without being charged. That will destroy lives and isolate communities", she added.

- "3 years ago, the UK Government sought to increase the period of pre-charge detention from 14 days to 90 days. Not long before that, it had been only 7 days. There was a vigorous debate ...and a ...compromise was reached of 28 days. We have to ask whether there are proper safeguards in place to extend the period to 42 days. I suggest that there are fatal flaws", reminded British Conservative Clappison.

- "What sort of society holds someone in detention for 42 days and does not have to tell the person who is in prison why they are there, or explain the suspicions that arose and led to their detention? What sort of society believes that that is the way to treat its citizens? That is an appalling injustice, ...A 42-day detention period will not make the UK safer. Instead, it will be the first step to giving in to terrorists; it is saying that we are prepared to sacrifice our democratic rights and the principles for which we have stood for centuries", criticized British Liberal Michael Hanckock


"Comments made ...by Norwegian delegates are unfortunate", replied British Socialist MEP Ms.Curtis-Thomas, accusing them to "besmirch the reputation of our police force, which is one of the Best in the World", as she said, believing that "there are significant safeguards ...to ensure that individuals are not subjected to unlawful detention"


PACE "has serious doubts whether ...the draft legislation are in conformity with the ...case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. A lack of ..safeguards may lead to arbitrariness, resulting in breaches of ... liberty and ...right to a fair trial". PACE "is particularly concerned that: ..the judge ..may not be in a position to examine whether there exist reasonable grounds for suspecting that the arrested person has committed an offence;"; that "... representation by a lawyer may be inappropriately restricted or delayed;" that "information on the grounds for suspicion of a person ...may be unduly withheld.. ;" that this "may give rise to arrests without the intention to charge;", and; in general, that "prolonged detention without proper information on the grounds for arrest may constitute inhuman treatment", says Klaus De Vries' Report, adopted with 29 votes against zero.


Records don't say if it took him 42 Days to draft his Report, but, at least, he knew why...


2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?


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