EUROPE: ERC supports EU2020 strategy

The scientific council of the European Research Council has put a submission to the European Commission's 2020 strategic planning regarding the framework 8 research programme 2014-2020. The document is well- argued and simply- presented, recommending specialisation and concentration of research between the commission and the member states.

The statement is organised around two central themes: the quest for a smarter and greener economy and the European Knowledge Area with free circulation of people, knowledge and technology.

It argues that:

* Many of the main factors are driving the European economy and societies are derived from basic science advances of the recent past (computers, internet, communications, biotechnology, alternative energies, new materials, etc).
* Knowledge is the core component for innovation.
* Basic science investments are the key to its advances and this means investment in the European and member state science base - the people and infrastructures.

The present mechanisms of grant handling at the ERC is a first step towards increased mobility of young researchers, the ERC argues: "We believe that the wish to make Europe a world-class, second-to-none knowledge society demands that Europe becomes a hotbed of top talent...The empowerment [of the individual researcher] is the elimination of barriers to mobility."

The document contains a strong underlining note of urgency regarding European and member states coordination: "Make no mistake about it: raising the European scientific infrastructure to the best world class level shall not be an easy task and is in itself a grand challenge. And, in contrast to all others, this is specifically European: nobody will do it for us".

The newly elected President of the EU Council, Herman van Rompuy, called for an extraordinary meeting of the Heads of State or Governments last Wednesday where the EU 2020 strategy was expected to be discussed.

The EU 2020 strategy may be decided in June during the Spanish Presidency of the EU.