European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik addressed the inaugural conference of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme in Ljubljana
Addressing the inaugural conference of the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme in Ljubljana on Friday, 2 March, European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik said globalisation was the biggest cause of change in the world and that Slovenia's decision to deal with this change with the help of EU research funds was a step in the right direction.
By boosting their research capacities, countries "strengthen the most vital part of their economic and development potential," Potocnik said. He added that partnership in science and innovation as put forward by the new framework programme was the most important element in bringing about effective change.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa meanwhile pointed out in his address to the over 600 participants of the conference that the EU was lagging behind the US in terms of research, with Slovenia falling behind even further.
According to Jansa, the basic problem of the EU and Slovenia is the failure to use knowledge to create useful products and services that could be marketed.
"It is not only about knowledge, but also about business opportunities," Jansa stressed, adding that the support of knowledge increases the competitiveness of the economy.
According to Economy Minister Andrej Vizjak, permeating the 7th Research Framework Programme is the basis for small and medium businesses forming the backbone of Europe's economy.
The EU is losing jobs because it cannot compete with countries with a cheaper labour force. Vizjak also believes the answer to this challenge lies in a knowledge-based economy.
Potocnik meanwhile described the 2007-2013 programme as subscribing to the goals of the Lisbon Strategy, which seeks to provide an answer to the question of how to improve the quality of life and at the same time remain competitive.
The answer does not lie in the lowering of social and environmental standards, but in knowledge. "To know more and to be better," Potocnik asserted.
The Slovenian commissioner and Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Jure Zupan agreed that setting up the European Research Area, which is to promote the exchange of knowledge across Europe, remained one of the priority challenges for the bloc.
Source: Slovenian Press Agency STA
Author: STA, Slovenian National Press Agency