EC Launches Biggest Call for International Cooperation Research Ever
John de Boer (University of Tokyo & GLOCOM Platform)
On 17 December, the European Commission published its first call for proposals to the 5 billion Euro funded Research Framework Program. This represents the biggest call ever published for international cooperation research and Japanese have been invited to participate. This first call covers eight research areas with the stated overall aim being, "gathering the necessary resources available for building the critical mass required for success in the international environment". The research areas have been introduced as: (1) Information Society Technology (IST); (2) Life Science, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health; (3) Nanotechnologies, intelligent materials and new production processes; (4) Aeronautics and Space; (5) Food quality and safety; (6) Sustainable Development (energy, surface transport, global change and ecosystems); (7) Citizens and Governance in a knowledge based society and (8) Policy support and anticipating scientific and technological needs.
The European Commission is particularly keen on having Japanese companies, universities and research institutes participate as they recognize that Japan is the most advanced in a number of these research areas. Furthermore, the EC seems to be counting on a synergetic collaboration between Europeans and Japanese in order to boost Europe's overall competitiveness.
In the words of Ambassador Bernhard Zepter, head of the delegation of the European Commission in Japan, Europeans consider "Japan as a very important actor in science and technology" and as European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin told Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Atsuko Toyama in early 2002, the EU "believes that EU-Japan cooperation can help address major scientific, industrial and societal issues and be of mutual benefit to our societies" (EU NEWS 26/2002, 19 December 2002).
These include resolving some of the most important problems we face today and will face in the future. Collaboration in advanced genomics could help us combat cancer and develop vaccines for HIV. Nanotechnologies and applications could lead to improvements in waste management and hazard reduction. Research in aeroplane technologies could reduce the environmental impact of airplanes with regard to emissions and noise. Improvements in food quality and safety will prevent food-related diseases. Developments in renewable energy could give birth to viable alternative motor fuels and transport systems preventing pollution and increasing traffic safety. Sustainable development that accounts for global change and ecosystems will increase our knowledge about desertification, biodiversity and disaster management. More emphasis on good governance could promote conflict resolution, restore justice and create new forms of citizenship and identity.
It is well recognized that many of the problems we face today require international collaboration. It is hoped that Japanese individuals and organizations will take this opportunity given by the European Commission to create new forms of research and cooperation with European partners in order to resolve increasingly complex situations. Most importantly, it is desirable that the knowledge created as a result of collaboration in these "networks of excellence" will become common goods and serve to benefit particularly vulnerable populations that are facing acute crises in areas of health, governance, development and pollution. Increased collaboration between Japan and Europe in these areas would prove beneficial for all of humankind and be the source of inspiration for all.
Sources of Information:
- The Delegation of the European Commission in Japan, "The European Commission encourages Japan to participate in the EU euro 5 billion funded Research Framework Programme" EU NEWS, 26/2002, 19 December 2002
- European Commission, "Commission calls on EU scientific and industrial communities to apply for EUR 5 billion research funding", IP/02/1889, Brussels, 16 December 2002 (http://www.cordis.lu/fp6)
- The Delegation of the European Commission in Japan, http://jpn.cec.eu.int/english/index.htm