We need an aligned European scientific research agenda, says EU Commissioner

28 Feb 2013

EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn in Dublin today with Prof Mark Ferguson, director-general, Science Foundation Ireland

The European research community needs to embrace and advance a ‘joint programming’ model of research, where member states work together to tackle issues in a strategically aligned process. That’s according to the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, who was speaking at a conference in Dublin today.

Geoghegan-Quinn was speaking at the start of a two-day conference on joint programming in Dublin Castle that has been organised under the Irish presidency of the EU.

Science Foundation Ireland is hosting the conference, which is being attended by more than 400 international delegates. The event, entitled ‘Agenda for the Future and Achievements to Date’, is focusing on scientific research programmes in both Ireland and across Europe.

In her address this morning, Geoghegan-Quinn said that at a time when public resources, including R&D funding, are under pressure, joint programming would offer a way to get better value, better results and bigger impacts from national research programmes.

“As public funders of research, we need to get better at setting priorities, choose where we can make the biggest impact with public money in a European context,” she said.

Geoghegan-Quinn said the strategic research agendas of joint programming initiatives are essential to ensure that national funding is committed and strategically aligned at European level.

“By aligning and co-ordinating the institutional and competitive funding committed under national research programmes, which account for 88pc of the public research investments in Europe, we can better exploit our resources for maximum societal impact,” she said.

The Minister of State for Research and Innovation Seán Sherlock, TD, described joint programming as going to the heart of the European project.

He said measuring the success of this joint programming approach in relation to areas such as health and well-being, food security and climate change is perhaps the most challenging aspect.

Sherlock also emphasised the need for joint programming to maximise the research community’s engagement with industry.

He said that by incorporating both SME and large companies into the process, there was an opportunity to shape the response of the research community to the changing enterprise landscape.

Sherlock said he intended to use the Irish Presidency to determine what level of political will existed regarding joint programming. He is planning to bring the matter to the Competitiveness Council in May and will propose to start a policy debate on joint programming.

Prof Mark Ferguson, the director-general of SFI, said the conference was important in helping to identify areas where “sensible synchronising” of policies between EU member states could be further progressed.

He said joint programming embodies the recent seismic shift towards the forging of new partnerships between traditionally distinct sectors at national and international level.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic