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EU: Competitiveness Council

Volume 710: debated on Monday 11 May 2009


An informal meeting of EU Research Ministers took place in Prague on 4 May. The two main topics for discussion were links between higher education, research and innovation policies and the mobility and career development of researchers. Professor Adrian Smith, director-general for science and research in DIUS represented the UK.

The meeting began with a session on the knowledge triangle (a concept referring to the links between higher education, innovation and research policies as being central to the creation of a strong knowledge-based economy). There were presentations from the vice-chair of the Czech Research Council and from three organisations representing major investors in R&D from the three sides of the knowledge triangle: EUROHORCs (the heads of national research councils in Europe), the European University Association (EUA) and BusinessEurope.

This was followed by a discussion focusing on relevant initiatives being implemented in member states and at European level. The UK stressed the need to address the culture of university-business relations alongside looking at the structures designed to forge links between these two groups and noted action taken in the UK to this effect.

The second session, on developing human resources for research, examined a paper circulated by the Portuguese and Luxembourg Ministers setting out the conditions required to make Europe a more attractive place for researchers to work. The UK referred to the importance of national action plans on researcher careers and mobility currently being developed in member states and the need to respect national competence which applied in key areas. It was also important to examine the specific needs of mobile researchers in the wider context of mobile workers as a whole and to maximise the use of existing European consultative groups in taking this agenda forward.