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Brussels, 24 October 2007

Commissioner Potočnik makes his first official visit to Chile and Brazil

European Science and Research Commissioner, Janez Potočnik, is making his first official visit to Brazil (24-26 October) and Chile (27-30 October). The visit is an opportunity to demonstrate the EU's commitment to strengthening S&T links with South America and to building solid research partnerships to combat global challenges. In Brazil, this follows on the launch of an EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership and the recent entry into force of an EU-Brazil Science and Technology Agreement. With Chile, the EU has an established, ambitious bilateral relationship with an S&T agreement dating back to 2002. In both countries, the Commissioner will combine meetings with ministers and senior officials with visits to research projects and interaction with the business community.

Developing bilateral and regional dialogue on science and technology issues was a key outcome of the EU-Latin America summit in 2006, with both sides agreeing to work towards an "EU-Latin America Knowledge Area". Commissioner Potočnik's trip will provide him with an opportunity to discuss in detail how this goal can be achieved. This will include opportunities open to Chile and Brazil within the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme, regional activities supported by the EU to develop higher education, research and technology, and greater involvement of Brazil and Chile in international scientific efforts.

Brazil is one of the most active third country participants in the EU's Research Framework Programmes, with involvement in 96 projects between 2002 and 2006. While Chile's participation was not at the same level, it has nonetheless increased its co-operation with the EU in successive framework programmes, increasing from 18 projects in the 5th Framework Programme to 58 in the 6th Framework Programme. Interest in European universities is clearly demonstrated by the more than 7000 people who attended a recent European university fair in Santiago, Chile (Europosgrados).

Commissioner Potočnik will meet with ministers and senior officials responsible for education, science and technology, & economy and innovation. His visit to Brazil will take him to Brasilia, for meetings with members of the government, and Rio de Janeiro, where he will give a speech on European science and research strategy at the Brazilian Development Bank and visit the Oceanographic Centre and the Biofuels Research Centre of Rio University. In Chile he will meet members of the Government, and President of the National Commission for Science and Technology. He will speak at a conference of the Chilean National Innovation Council, and visit the European Southern Observatory. Finally, he will be shown around the Mathematical Modelling Centre, a joint centre of excellence with the French National Scientific Research Council (CNRS).

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