News archive - Potocniks personal words on his visit to Serbia

Commissioner Potocnik also maintains a personal blog in which he discusses a "theme of the week". You can read his views on different topics, in June he wrote for example about "Greening air transport: We’re ready for take-off", "Sustainable development: where there’s a will, there’s a way", "A step ahead for research infrastructures!" and "JRC-Ispra Open Day 2009". Here we copy his words on the Visit to Serbia: on the way towards foll integration into the European Research Area.


"I was in Belgrade at the beginning of the week participating at an EU Research Information Event that the Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Joint Research Centre organised together with Serbian Ministry for Science and Technological Development. The city was in preparation to host a big event for the next two weeks - the Universiade 2009, which is besides Olympic Games the biggest sport event gathering students from the entire world. But unfortunately I could not participate at the opening, since it starts on the same day that all of the members of the Commission meet with the new Swedish Presidency in Stockholm. Fortunately my son is playing in the Slovenian volleyball team at the event, so at least one “Potočnik” will participate at the event.☺

This was my fourth visit to Serbia during my mandate as the Science and Research Commissioner and these visits are always filled with a lot of emotions; on one hand they bring back memories of the old days when I was travelling to Belgrade preparing my PhD thesis, and on the other hand I have the possibility to meet with enthusiastic scientists and researchers, explaining how the association to FP7 brought them new chances, new opportunities. Occasions like the EU Research Information Event are therefore very important. The event itself brought together 400 scientists, business and government representatives and it was in terms of numbers the biggest event co-organised by our two Directorates. It offered not only an opportunity for gathering information on the FP7, but also a place for networking and strengthening dialog for further integration into the European Research Area.

Serbia became associated to FP7 in January 2007 and the results it has achieved already in two and a half years are encouraging – the success rate was almost 15% comparing to EU’s, which is around 20%. This is good news not only for Serbia but also for the EU, since participation of Serbia and the other Western Balkan countries provides more weight to the EU and European Research Area on the global scene: we will be more attractive and more competitive if we join forces and avoid fragmentation of research.

But the main message, which I gave during the visit, is that Serbia should not consider association to FP7 only as a funding possibility, but also as an opportunity to cooperate further with other Western Balkan countries and to be active in the European Research Area. This is important not only to Serbia, but also for all the Western Balkan countries, which are now all associated to FP7. This also gives a possibility for all these countries to cooperate among each other at regional level and upgrade the regional level of research and development. With the association to FP7 all the WBCs made a decisive step, since it also facilitates their integration into the EU. Association to FP7 is important in the preparation for accession process and these countries should take full advantage of this.

During the meetings with Serbian authorities, President Tadić, Prime Minister Cvetković and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Science and Technology Ðelić I also emphasised that it is important that Western Balkan countries stay on the path towards EU integration, not only because of the integration itself, but because they have to do many reforms in order to become more competitive in a sustainable way and to offer good quality of life to their citizens.

Also it is clear that these are hard times for the Western Balkans – the present economic and financial crisis is hitting them even harder than the majority of EU Member States and to pursue some of the objectives that these countries set for themselves will be hard. But despite hard times the investment in research should stay high on governments’ agendas, since it is important for the stability and development of the whole region. Research is part of the way out of the crisis, globally, in the European Union, as well as in the Western Balkans and Serbia. It will help them and us to come out stronger."


Entry created by Elke Dall on July 1, 2009
Modified on July 1, 2009