A ‘European Research Area without barriers’ is one of the main priorities of the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in the field of research and development. This top Czech priority follows the agenda inherited from previous Presidencies, but introduces a new perspective. In addition, it reflects the Czech Republic’s motto for the Presidency, ‘A Europe without barriers’, and the Czech Republic’s most important priority area – ‘A competitive and open Europe’. Regarding links with the European Union’s policy on research and development, the priorities are an integral part of the Lisbon Strategy.

In the new situation of a financial crisis spreading around Europe, the research agenda is even more important, since Europe’s competitiveness depends largely on research and development and their connection with innovation, thus on the level of investment into these areas.

All areas of the Czech Presidency are marked by the effort to remove barriers within the European Research Area, between new and old Members States, as well as among elements of the knowledge triangle.

European Research Area without barriers

The EU considers the most important research activity to be the support of world-class research infrastructures, mobility of competent researchers, excellent research institutions in such fields as nanotechnologies, knowledge sharing, coordinated programmes and priorities (the implementation and evaluation of public research investments at the European level) and a wide openness of the European Research Area to the world.

Further to the communication drafted by the European Commission during 2008,  the Czech Presidency intends to  follow up with activities in the area of career development of researchers, to deal with issues of research infrastructures, European research and development impact assessment methods, and the issue of women in science. The Czech Republic will continue with the next phase of the Ljubljana Process, i.e. the implementation of Vision 2020, formulated during the French Presidency.

Major research infrastructures

Research infrastructures could and should become the backbone of European research and development.

In December 2008, the ESFRI (European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructure) submitted an updated roadmap, raising the issue of project funding and placement. The Czech Republic’s priority will be a debate on the implementation of the ESFRI Roadmap and a harmonious European development in the regional distribution of research and development infrastructures. This area of interest will be promoted by means of a report drawn up by the ESFRI Regional Working Group, as well as the ESFRI Roadmap Update. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, in collaboration with the European Commission, will hold a conference on the impact that research infrastructures have on regional development, following the Slovenian and French conferences on research infrastructures.

Mobility of young researchers

One of the factors with a significant bearing on the development of the European Research Area is the securing of a sufficient number of quality researchers, advancement of their careers and facilitating all forms of mobility for them. In this respect, the European Commission has recently made a major effort, which has included publishing numerous documents and recommendations for Member States. An example of this is a Directive regulating the recruitment of scientists from third countries, a charter and a code for researchers.
In May 2008, the European Commission issued the Communication: ‘Better careers and more mobility’: a European Partnership for Researchers. This document stresses ‘partnership’ in all its forms: between Member States and the Commission, between Member States and universities, research organisations and industry. The document concentrates on a number of issues singled out to be the main factors constraining the growth in the number of researchers throughout Europe, the development of their careers and mobility. Conclusions concerning this Communication were approved by the September Competitiveness Council. During the French Presidency a new strategy on human resources in research and development was officially launched. In the course of 2008/2009,  Member States are expected to start developing or refining their action plans based on the Council conclusions, and report on their progress to the European Commission by the end of 2009. This issue will also be dealt with at a conference ‘Researchers in a Europe without Barriers’, to be held during the Czech Presidency..

Impact of European programmes on national competitiveness

At a conference held under the Czech Presidency, the European Commission will submit a report on the evaluation of the Sixth Framework Programme. This conference will contribute to the debate on this report; it will further focus on the role of evaluation in the development of policies based on concrete information and on methods used to carry out the evaluation. For effective investment into research and development, policies must be formulated on the basis of concrete outputs.

Ljubljana Process

At the Informal Competitiveness Council held in Brdo on 14–15 April 2008 Slovenia initiated the so-called Ljubljana Process. This process should follow the public debate on the European Research Area at the level of ministers. Ministers of the upcoming Trio Presidency of France, the Czech Republic and Sweden have pledged to continue the process. In the first stage, France has worked out the document called “European Research Area Vision 2020“, together with the Trio and all of the Member States. The Czech Presidency’s task will be to take the process further by drafting the document “Implementation of Vision 2020”, proceeding in a way similar to France. The main topics of the document should include e.g. removing barriers in the knowledge triangle at the level of policies, consultations with stakeholders when drafting policies etc.

Events in the area of research and development to be held during the Czech Presidency

Under the Czech Presidency, eleven conferences on research and development will be held, all of which fall within the official calendar of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Some will take place in cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and its Technology Centre. There will, for instance, be a conference on foreseeable developments in nanotechnology, Euronanoforum, and a conference on future emerging technologies. A number of accompanying events will take place in the field of research and development, with the participation of the regions and the European Commission. One important event will be a high-level meeting on innovation and development policy, INCOM, organised by the Office of the Czech Government. The largest conference to be held is Research Connection 2009, which should contribute to larger participation of new Member States in the FP7 Framework Programme.

Last update: 16.8.2011 16:02

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