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Brussels, 11 November 2002

"Research 2002": the biggest-ever conference on science and technology opens in Brussels

This morning in Brussels European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt opened the "Research 2002" conference. The gathering marks the start of the €17,5 billion 6th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006)): the first calls for proposals will be published shortly. With 9,000 participants "Research 2002" is the biggest event of this kind ever organised in Europe. Commissioner Busquin said: "I invite European scientific and business community to join EU institutions and Member States in making the Framework Programme a success, to foster the creation of the European Research Area, an internal market for knowledge and science." Prime Minister Verhofstadt added: "The creation of a genuine European Research Area is of the utmost importance to determine the kind of Europe and the kind of world we may expect in the twenty-first century."

The conference brings together more than 9,000 participants from 61 countries, of whom more than 1000 from Candidate Countries. 200 speakers, including 20 ministers, Nobel laureates and many business executives and policy makers, will address EU research policy with its three pillars.

These include a long-term project, the creation of the European Research Area (ERA), and a four-year funding scheme, FP6, that should feed into the ERA initiative by networking the best research centres across Europe and making European scientific excellence achieve critical mass at EU level. The March 2002 Barcelona European Council's call to raise EU research spending to 3% of average EU GDP is one of ERA's facets, and FP6, as a catalyst, can foster more and better investment, both public and private, in research.

A total of 142 research projects and 65 research organisations are on exhibition, and the conference attracted over 300 journalists. 81 scientific events will be organised by the participants themselves.

See also IP/02/1643 and IP/02/1529.

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