News archive - Potocnik: Let's open our doors

Janez Potocnik (EU Commissioner for Science and Research) is publishing a personal blog - his entry of June 22, 2007 titles "Let's open our doors" and deals with the association agreements signed with the Western Balkan countries. At his blog-site you are also invited to leave your comments!

"I often like to say that knowledge and science can remove borders. This week I have yet again seen that this is true.
Last week I received special guests – the science ministers of three western Balkan countries. They were here to sign an agreement associating them with the Seventh Research Framework Programme. A representative of Turkey, which had signed such an agreement the week before, was also present.

From now on Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Serbia and Turkey will have the same rights and obligations as the European Member States in terms of access to research projects and grants. However, it is not only benefits they are gaining. The agreement binds them to drawing up comprehensive national research policies that would among other things encourage public and private investment in research; support mobility of researchers or the development of research infrastructures. And there is a lot more than that to be done!

By means of Association agreements we are opening up to non-EU members and giving their scientists and researchers an opportunity to run their projects and participate in those of colleagues in the EU.
All these countries were in various ways successfully involved with the previous 6th Framework Programme and thus have earned their right to remain equal partners for us in science and research.

For Serbia especially, Wednesday was a day of double success as it also saw the reopening of talks between them and the European Union. Croatia has already started accession negotiations. FYROM has been awarded status of candidate country. As a start, integrating all of them in the European Research Area is big leap in the right direction towards full EU integration.

These agreements aren‘t only about potential EU members. I will next week be signing the agreement with Switzerland, which has years of experience of working with European scientists in the programme, and Israel the month after that. Norway and Iceland will soon follow. This just goes to show that research really is about opening doors.

by Janez Potocnik

Entry created by Elke Dall on June 25, 2007
Modified on June 26, 2007