News archive - Commissioner Potočnik Visits Serbia

On June 29, 2009, European Commissioner for Research Janez Potočnik attended the EU Research Information Event “Towards integration into the European Research Area” in Belgrade, Serbia.

Potočnik praised Serbia for its active participation in FP7: in less than three years the Serbian scientific community seems well embedded in the European research community. “We encourage you to continue in this path as we believe that it will help for Serbia's future that lies in the European Union. We hope that the Serbian people share this objective,” the Commissioner pointed out.

Serbia has successfully participated in several FP7 projects, especially in such areas as AgroFood, ICT and energy. However, “there is room for improvement and I believe that this can only be achieved if Serbia commits more fully to the objectives of the ERA,” Potočnik added.

Steering Platform on Research for the Western Balkan Countries Does Excellent Work

Commissioner Potočnik also pointed out the importance of the Steering Platform for Research Co-operation, launched by himself in June 2006, and supported by the WBC-INCO.NET project. “The Steering Platform is doing excellent work, if only because it is the only forum in which representatives from the ministries of science from every WBC sit together.”

However, as the ERA is work in progress, further challenges would need to be met. The proposed National Strategy for Research Cooperation was a step into the right direction. Involvement of the private sector in research still needed to be enhanced and more attractive and competitive working conditions for scientists to be created.

As an Associated Country to FP7, the EU expects Serbia to fully contribute to the realisation of the five core objectives of the ERA as part of ERA Vision 2020 and the Ljubljana process: a single labour market for researchers; worldclass research infrastructures; well coordinated research programmes and priorities or joint programming; effective knowledge sharing and opening of the ERA to the world. Potočnik expressed his hope that “Serbia will contribute, through the Strategic Forum on International Cooperation to an open ERA by streamlining its bilateral programmes with those of the EU on thematic and geographic targets to be determined together”.

Although some aspects of the European Research Strategy might sound futuristic in a country like Serbia that has an economy in mid-transition, and even more in times of a global financial crisis, it was his “firm conviction that the need for scientific investment remains a priority, even an opportunity in times of crisis. Money is scarce, but the right investments in research and technological development are smart investments,” said Potočnik.

“Finally, increasing regional competitiveness is part of your partnership with Europe. Doing research together will allow you to share knowledge and ideas, develop better and more innovative products, create new opportunities for accessing markets and, above all, help to improve the quality of life of your citizens. In doing research together, Serbia and its neighbours will become more competitive and build sustainable prosperity. Sustainable economic development will help you on the road to EU membership. I know that you still have a lot of work to do to build up your research capacity, build or rebuild infrastructures and grow useful networks of co-operation. Therefore, I am very pleased to announce that under the recent FP7 Work Programme on Research Potential, another call specifically for the Western Balkan countries aiming at strengthening your research capacity will be launched this summer.”

Moreover, “cooperation and support for research does not and should not only come from the 7th Framework Programme. The Pre-Accession Instrument (IPA) also has an important role to play. We can use it in synergy with other instruments and stakeholders, who are committed to the same objective – to strengthen the capacity of the region by paying the right attention to and investing in the knowledge triangle,” Research Commissioner Potočnik concluded.

Geographical focus
  • European Union (EU 27)
  • Serbia

Entry created by Katarina Rohsmann on October 23, 2009
Modified on October 23, 2009