The 2005 ‘Researchers in Europe' Initiative
The need to dispose of abundant and well trained human resources in European research has become a matter of increasing urgency and political commitment. Highlighted in the Commission's Communication of January 2000 ( COM(2000) 6 final of 18 January 2000 ) as an essential tool to implement the European Research Area, it has likewise been emphasised in the Lisbon and Barcelona European Councils, which have set two major policy objectives for the end of the decade, namely to make Europe by 2010 the most competitive and dynamic knowledge economy in the world and to devote an average of 3 % of the Member States' GDP to research, two-thirds of which originating from the private sector.
These commitments, which have been re-emphasised since in all Spring European Councils, will inevitably have strong implications on the situation of researchers in Europe. The fulfilment of the so-called 3 % objective alone will require no less than 700.000 new researchers, in addition to the renewal of the rapidly ageing research population.
Following the Lisbon and Barcelona mandates, the Commission, together with the Member States and candidate countries, has taken a series of initiatives in order to improve the EU's attractiveness for research talent from all over the world, remove obstacles to the mobility of researchers ( COM(2001) 331 final of 20 June 2003 ) and enhance careers in research at European level ( COM(2003) 436 final of 18 July 2003 ) . In this context, the need to raise the public awareness about the role of researchers in society and to attract more young people into scientific careers appears to play a central role.
It is proposed consequently to organise during 2005 a large awareness campaign in Europe under the theme : “The 2005 ‘Researchers in Europe' Initiative”.
The specific objectives of the Initiative will be :
* to improve and promote a better public understanding of the contribution of researchers to society, in terms of innovation, job creation, competitiveness and economic growth;
* to encourage more young people to embark on careers in R&D and contribute thereby to increase the number of researchers in Europe
* to contribute to the overall attractiveness of the EU as a reference area for research talent from all over the world and raise awareness of the potential of the European Research Area as a European Employment market for researchers.
The European Commission will offer in this respect, during a given period of time (6 months) a global platform where all stakeholders involved – students, teachers, parents, businesses, academic institutions, research organisations, public authorities, foundations etc. – will have the opportunity to express and exchange views on the contribution of researchers to society, as well as to promote the above objectives, in particular the need to foster the researcher's profession
Conceived as a large and multi-faceted awareness operation , the 2005 ‘Researchers in Europe' Initiative will be structured around two main pillars :
- events organised at European level, including : a European launch event, a European Researchers' Night, and a large scale closing conference and event bringing together the conclusions and recommendations put forward during the Initiative
- activities put forward by stakeholders at local, regional, national and international level. These activities will be the purpose of an open call for proposals (FP6-2004-Mobility-13), to be published in the European Community Official Journal on 11 September 2004 (closing date : 2 December 2004). The call will be open to all interested actors including schools, libraries, science museums, laboratories and research organisations, academic institutions, businesses, pubic authorities, associations, and the media. The activities proposed must be geared towards contributing to the overall objectives of the Initiative. Information about the call will be displayed on Cordis.
The Initiative will be launched in May/June 2005 and last until November.
The idea of proposing a European-wide Initiative focusing on researchers is expected to attract considerable attention and impact. The ongoing debate in several EU countries about the funding of research often encompasses the issue of human resources and the impact of researchers on society.
The current interest generated by the human resource debate paves the way consequently for a potentially considerable outreach, with extended discussion opportunities and policy implications. It concerns above all a large range of possible actors and opens the opportunity to engage the public at large, including the media, in this debate.