We need EUREKA to reach Barcelona objectives


Brussels: EUREKA highlighted the key role it is playing in enabling Europe to reach the Barcelona objectives in a presentation on its activities to the Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the European Parliament on 30 March 2005. "We need EUREKA to keep scientists in Europe," emphasised Irish MEP Mrs Avril Doyle of the EEP Group, who hosted the presentation.

The EUREKA intergovernmental Initiative offers a significant platform for promoting innovation and supporting the creation of the European Research Area (ERA). Since 1985, EUREKA has supported more than 2600 research projects with a value exceeding Ä22,000 million. It focuses on the development of market-oriented products and services, involving 11,000 participants from SMEs, large enterprises and universities in Europe.

In February 2005, the Parliament's Locatelli Report on the Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research include key amendments on EUREKA as an example of public and private partnerships, research clustering and as a functioning model that provides opportunities for SMEs to form partnerships and benefit from technology transfer in Europe.

In the opening press conference, Mrs Doyle highlighted the fact that 400,000 EU-trained scientists and researchers are currently working in the USA. In her view, these figures demonstrate that Europe is not doing enough for its highly educated scientists. Today, thanks to EUREKA, thousands of scientists and researchers are working together developing innovative products in Europe, for example French and Italian factories that would not exist without the success of a EUREKA project on microchips.

In the presentation to the ITRE Committee, Mr Roel Kramer, Chairman of the EUREKA High Level Group, and Mr Michel Vieillefosse, Head of the EUREKA Secretariat, opened with a general introduction to EUREKA. They covered some current issues, for example the relationship between EUREKA and the Seventh Framework Programme, specifically on the European Technology Platforms (ETPs) and SMEs, as well as the use of the structural funds for R&D projects.

Mr Vittorio Prodi, Italian MEP, praised the success of EUREKA as an example of best practices in European R&D. He also highlighted the necessity for the EUREKA Initiative to move forward to become a real technology platform, starting from enterprises and proceeding to universities and research centres in a bottom-up approach.

Mr David Hammerstein Mintz, Spanish Member of the ITRE Committee, welcomed the EUREKA Initiative as an effective Network to exchange information between members countries and one from which SMEs can benefit. He also stressed that the cultural link is very important and EUREKA's activities should be strengthened and promoted.

Mr Jerzy Buzek, Polish MEP, was keen to include EUREKA in the debates surrounding the Framework Programmes.

Mrs Dorette Corbey, Dutch MEP, contrasted the success rate of EUREKA projects with that of the EU Framework Programme, which is much lower; she called for further learning and sharing experiences between these two programmes.

Mrs Pilar del Castillo Vera, Spanish MEP, noted that research is very important and people realise nowadays that competitiveness largely depends on successful innovation. Therefore, proper deployment of research funds is needed. She also commented that EUREKA should not lose its identity and it should clearly define its relationship with other existing European research entities, including FP7 and national research programmes, and related initiatives.

Mrs Marie-NoŽlle Lienemann, French MEP, spoke very positively on the EUREKA Initiative and supported links between European programmes. She also asked what role MEPs could play to support the Initiative as well as how funds are raised and whether any help is needed there. Mrs Lienemann added that EUREKA should not be part of FP7: "As EUREKA is working well we should keep it working as it is," she said.

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