News archive - Potocnik Urges Balkan Countries to Sign FP7 Association Agreements

CORDIS reports in an article the endevours of EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik who has appealed to all Balkan countries to become associated to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

"Speaking on 'Research and Balkan stability' at a Friends of Europe policy summit, Mr Potocnik offered his experience as a Slovenian, the former chief negotiator for Slovenia's accession to the EU, and as a Commissioner.

In his address, Mr Potocnik explained how research can help Balkan countries, both in terms of improving quality of life and economic prosperity, and of meeting technical requirements for entry into the EU.

'Research cooperation breaks down frontiers, both physical and cultural. Because researchers understand and share the same objective: improving society through curiosity and excellence,' said the Commissioner.

In practical terms, research supports capacity building, and will thus bring the Balkan countries closer to meeting the EU's accession requirements. Research also creates links, and thus provides opportunities for learning through the exchange of best practice.

The Commissioner expressed his wish that all Balkan countries participate in FP7. If they were to participate as 'associated' countries, they would be equal partners and enjoy opportunities not open to 'third countries'.

In order to become an associated country, a state must sign a memorandum of understanding with the Community and make a financial contribution towards FP7. In exchange, its institutions participate and get EU funding. Outside of the Balkans, the following states were associated to FP6: Iceland, Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

'To help, I have made the conditions for Balkan countries to associate with FP7 as attractive as possible. I have done this because I believe that, more than in the past, research has become an important accession tool and, more than in the past, the Balkans need a clear message of our willingness to help,' said Mr Potocnik.

Some Balkan countries have taken up the offer, while others are still considering it, said the Commissioner.

To conclude, Mr Potocnik said that he wanted the doors of European research to be 'wide open to all Balkan countries'. Full involvement would help these countries develop, help them become a part of the EU, and bring the excellent scientists and researchers from the Balkans on board. But these are not the only reasons to pursue participation in EU research. 'I want Balkan countries to be fully integrated into research because it is also an undeniable step on the path to stability and integration into the EU,' he said."

Source: CORDIS News Article, as accessed December 6, 2006

Entry created by Elke Dall on December 6, 2006
Modified on December 6, 2006