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Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Committee Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to present to you the priorities of the German Presidency regarding Community research.
This year, the European Union is celebrating a special anniversary, namely its 50th. We have every reason to celebrate this event. Unparalleled achievements have been made over the past five decades. The process of European integration is a unique event and a stroke of luck. Europe is a success story which we owe to the great passion, far-sightedness and magnanimity of many outstanding personalities. Europe is and continues to be a symbol of hope and opportunities for today's and future generations. Europe is a guarantor for life in peace, freedom and justice.
In spite of all these achievements, however, we must not forget that Europe is facing up to new challenges. You will be well aware of this. I would like to address some important points:
The citizens' confidence and enthusiasm for the EU have not always kept abreast with Europe's achievements. The people are proud to be Europeans. However, they are sceptical with regard to certain changes. This has also become visible in the discussions on the European Constitution Treaty and EU enlargement. We will therefore also have to fill the European identity with new life.
We need convincing arguments to be able to better counteract insecurity and doubts regarding the enlargement of the European house. We must make clear and demonstrate that Europe has a positive impact on the life of its citizens. We also need visions for the future. They are a means to rekindle enthusiasm for Europe. The citizens must feel that Europe is not a problem but a stroke of luck for all of us.
The German Council Presidency is pursuing the objective of preparing the EU even better for the future. We have ambitious goals. These include providing impetus for more growth and employment, progress in our common energy policy and climate protection and better cooperation in the fight against terrorism and crime. We want to reignite the reform process in the EU and once again put the European Constitution on the agenda. We want to maintain the political substance of the draft constitution and use it to make the EU more transparent and more democratic and to bring it closer to the citizens.
Such tasks require huge stamina. The future offers great opportunities which we want to use. A six-month Presidency is not enough to do so. We are therefore cooperating closely with the succeeding Portuguese and Slovenian Presidency within the framework of the "Team Presidency". We must pool our forces to be successful. We have therefore put our Council Presidency under the motto of "Together we can make Europe work".
The central challenges of the future are too big to be tackled by the individual Member States. The urgent political tasks which we are facing today are the economic, social and ecological modernization of Europe in the age of globalization, securing our energy supply despite increasingly scarce resources, fighting terrorism and international organized crime, the promotion of peace and democracy in the world as well as the commitment to the future of our planet. We Europeans can only cope with these task successfully if we work together.
I am convinced that research and innovation will play a key role in the future. A few days ago, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said that successful regions are characterized by three factors, namely talent, technology and tolerance! We have more than enough of these in Europe if we only look closely. I am convinced that this applies to our past as well as to our future. Europe lives from and for research, Europe lives from and through innovation, Europe lives from and in diversity.
The future has great challenges in store for the European Union. It is only consistent and right that research and innovation should take an outstanding position among this year's priorities which the Competitiveness Council will adopt in February. Our motto for the tasks at hand follows quite naturally: "Success through Research".
Research and innovation have a central function for the entire European process. For me, the Committee for Industry, Research and Energy is therefore one of the Parliament's most important "Committees of the Future". I am looking forward to close and trusting cooperation with you because dialogue and cooperation are the prerequisites for the success of our work.
Lisbon sent out the signal that we want to develop Europe into the most innovative economic area. We cannot increase our international competitiveness if we do not improve the climate for research and innovation. We therefore need a change of mentality. This is the only way to generate sustainable economic growth and future-oriented jobs.
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament,
You have acquired great and lasting merits with your work on the ITRE Committee. You have ensured that the 7th Research Framework Programme has been shaped sensibly and adopted on time. This compact programme is a central instrument in the new research and innovation policy. I have just launched this future-oriented programme together with Research Commissioner Poto?nik. The 7th Research Framework Programme will bear fruit and will give us a strong position in the competition with the leading science societies of the world over talent and new technologies. We will thus maintain prosperity and secure jobs in Europe.
Knowledge, well-trained people and efficient research structures are the most decisive strategic factors in the global competition of the 21st century. Investments in research and development are prerequisites for prosperity and economic growth; in future more than ever.
Against this background, the heads of state and government of the European Union decided in Lisbon to invest at least 3 percent of GDP in research and development by the year 2010. The launch conference for the 7th Research Framework Programme took place in Bonn on 15 and 16 January 2007. The 7th Research Framework Programme and the European Research Council (ERC) will set the course for the future. They contribute to improving the innovativeness and to thus securing the competitiveness of the European Union in the long term.
My aim is to further enhance conditions for research and innovation in Europe. This initiative is organized in close agreement between the Commission and the Presidency. Together, we want to renew the European Research Area. The establishment of the European Research Council is new. We are opening up a new chapter of European research policy and the European Research Area by dealing more intensively with the coherence of national and European research facilities and promoting the development of modern European basic research.
We are pleased that this important step is being made towards a European Research Council and that we can celebrate this event in Berlin. The German Research Association (DFG) is organizing the launch event of the European Research Council in Berlin from 27 to 28 February 2007 together with the science organizations and in cooperation with my Ministry.
The ERC will dispose of a funding volume of over one billion Euro per annum. The ERC is a shift of paradigm in European research funding. Through the ERC the EU is addressing basic research for the first time ever. So far, this has been a national task.
We know today how important basic research is for innovations and the creation and development of markets. Excellent basic research enables us to overcome present barriers, realize innovations and thus create new jobs and secure existing ones. The German Council Presidency wants to make a contribution to realigning Europe and the European research environment with a view to innovation and competitiveness.
When talking about the renewal of the European Research Area, we must also state that for the first time ever we are funding security research under the 7th Research Framework Programme and that we have opened the programme entirely for cooperation with third countries. This means:
1.European security research will focus on research into topics in the civil area which are relevant to security. This offers a clear added value compared with the corresponding national programmes.
2.The 7th Research Framework Programme will be open to cooperation with third countries in all specific programmes. Our Council Presidency will also address the topic of internationalization in the CREST Committee in order to actively promote European activities in line with the internationalization strategy developed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
Our main focus for 2007 is on the 7th Research Framework Programme. Following its successful launch it must now be implemented successfully and filled with life. In order to do so, a number of very important research policy and legal decisions must be taken.
1.decisions on the funding of joint programmes of Member States under article 169 EC Treaty which are adopted in co-decision by the Parliament, and
2.decisions on joint technology initiatives under article 171 EC Treaty in which Council and Commission will consider the Parliament's position very seriously.
Of course, we can only talk about this in greater detail when the Commission's proposals are on the table. I am expecting these in March or April. Both packages of measures will be important for our national High-tech Strategy as well as for strengthening the European Research Area.
Discussions on the proposal to establish a European Technology Institute (EIT) are making good progress.
The EIT is to:
-facilitate innovation partnerships,
-promote entrepreneurial initiatives,
-translate research and development results more rapidly into business opportunities, and
-enrich the dimension of higher education through the most up-to-date, directly applicable knowledge.
This process is not about establishing an isolated green-field institution but exclusively about launching a truly "European Flagship of Innovation". Ladies and Gentlemen, a flagship leads other ships. It does not remain on its own. Success or failure of the initiative considerably depend on the right choice of partners and the topics of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs).
Max Weber once said that politics is like slowly drilling through thick boards: with patience and passion. We must thoroughly consider how we want to set the points for the future. Once the train has taken a wrong turn, we have missed an opportunity. In other words: We want this process to be more than just a correctly implemented Commission Proposal because this proposal is simply far too important.
We want to make sure that all existing gaps in this initiative are rapidly filled. This is decisive for success or failure. Consultations conducted by the Commission itself have shown how broad the range of views is and how many questions are still open. These include issues like cost estimates and the funding of EIT. The democratic spirit and customs in the EU require that the Council and the Parliament are involved or participate in all fundamental decisions.
As European Community legislators, both Parliament and Council must therefore, obtain clarity together with the Commission on the practical form and most important content of the EIT. The German Council Presidency wants to conduct an intensive and open dialogue about the best form, the necessary instruments and, not least, the funding of EIT together with you and the rapporteur you have appointed, Mr. Reino PAASILINNA.
We will support a truly European competition of excellence and relevance for the EIT and thus for more innovation in Europe.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The revision of the EU budgets for 2008 will, once again, decide on what sum of the overall budget will be provided to research. The revision is an occasion to intensively deal with the requirements and necessities of research in all areas in order to improve the climate for more investments in research and development at European level in parallel to the Lisbon process in the Member States.
Further EU funding tools must be used creatively in order to strengthen such investments. The Research Framework Programme is not enough. For example, the Structural Funds to improve the integration of new Member States into the European Research Area should also be used to fully tap the synergy potential of these tools with the EU Research Framework Programme. Furthermore, research-driven clusters should ensure greater innovation.
The German Presidency will therefore support the Commission in developing a guideline. This guideline will provide new Member States with practical support in important issues. The funding of research infrastructures through a combination of structural funds and funds of the 7th Research Framework Programme will play a central role. We need greater transparency and, above all, a simpler application of the complicated rules.
If we want to increase Europe's innovativeness, we must strengthen application-oriented research and technological developments. In order to do so, we need structural changes which better interlink existing potential at institutions of higher education, other research institutions and companies.
However, all this money and networking will not be enough if we do not have the people, the minds which are behind creative ideas and breakthrough innovations. The 2006 Gago report states that Europe is short of 700,000 researchers.
Young talents opt too rarely for a career in research or end such a career because of unfavourable conditions. This situation has consequences, above all regarding individual opportunities in life, the performance of our research institutions, institutions of higher education and labs, investments and the location of companies and, last but not least, the future orientation of Europe as a whole.
We must modernize the European research environment to counteract this trend. We need greater mobility and better opportunities for transfer at institutions of higher education, research institutions and in industry.
The worldwide competition for innovation can be reduced to a competition for talent. If Europe wants to remain active and attractive in this field, we must increase the international orientation of our institutions of higher education. We must make intensive efforts to attract the best students and scientists from across the world.
In addition to an international opening, we must intensify research on the borders of disciplines. Because the most creative ideas are often found in these fields. Interdisciplinary exchanges are as important as exchanges between basic research and application-oriented research and exchanges between institutions of higher education and industry.
A major success is the establishment of an individual funding line under the 7th Research Framework Programme. In the past, the funding of "excellence teams" was located under the Marie Curie measures. The new aim is to promote the establishment of individual working groups for excellent young scientists. On our initiative, this programme received far higher funds and is now located with the European Research Council (ERC).
There can be no lasting success in the competition for research locations without a high quality research infrastructure. At European level, the "European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure" (ESFRI) was established as a body of high-level representatives of the European Research Ministers. In autumn 2006, ESFRI drafted a European "schedule" for research infrastructures in all disciplines.
At national level, Germany has clearly positioned itself as the largest operator of research infrastructures in Europe in the medium term. I would like to mention the four large-scale facilities for basic scientific research - XFEL, FAIR, HALO and the High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Against this background, the fourth "European Conference for Research Infrastructure" is being organized within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency in Hamburg on 5 and 6 June 2007, together with ESFRI and the European Commission. It will shed light on science policy questions related to the construction and operation of research infrastructures.
Good cooperation between institutions of higher education and industry ("Responsible Partnering") is the basic prerequisite for innovation. Issues like technology transfer for the better use of research results, on the one hand, and the prevention of an uncontrolled outflow of know-how, on the other are playing, an increasingly important role.
Another important topic in this context is the question of how to deal with intellectual property rights. These are central topics of global competition and of more investment in research and innovation. It is therefore indispensable to improve the management of intellectual property rights, in the area of research as well as in the area of technology transfer.
I am convinced that it is important for Europe to agree on some kind of terms of reference for international cooperation. These should not only facilitate international cooperation but also make very clear what behaviour we expect from our partners. We will therefore launch an initiative for a CHARTA for dealing with intellectual property.
We need coherent policies to implement the European Research Area and to counteract a defragmentation of European research. This presupposes agreement on common criteria for responsible research. Because growing transnationality, growing European influence on the framework conditions for action by national players right up to the Europeanization of political decision-making processes in individual fields of politics go hand in hand with increasing challenges regarding a "Governance of Science".
A conference on "Responsible Science" therefore links up with national funding activities and concludes the research policy programme of the German EU Council Presidency. The Team Presidency with Portugal and Slovenia provides the right platform for keeping this topic on the European agenda in the longer term.
We intend to continue the dialogue on European identity and diversity in the context of the festivities on 25 March 2007 to mark the founding of the European Union and with a view to the renewal of the European constitutional treaty process. Interlinkages and binding elements are to be analyzed on the basis of the diversity and richness of national and regional cultures.
Europe is a continent of tolerance, Federal Chancellor Merkel declared. The European citizens share a knowledge of different identities under the consensus of common values. Europe arises from both. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has declared the year 2007 the Year of the Humanities. Within the framework of the conference "The Spirit of Europe", which will take place in Leipzig on 6 June 2007, we want to take stock of the status and the topics of current Europe research in different disciplines of the humanities.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Konrad Adenauer once said: "The unity of Europe was the dream of a few. It has become the hope for many. And today it is the necessity for all." I would like to add: Hope is based on Europe's strength in research and innovation. Together with you, the German Council Presidency wants to make a major contribution to a situation where our Europe is not only considered a necessity in global competition, but is "successful through research".
I would like to thank you for your attention. I am looking forward to your questions and will do my best to answer them clearly and precisely.