NEWS

700,000 new research jobs for the EU

Europe produces the largest number of scientists and scientific publications. The continent produces knowledge, although it lags in patents and commercial applications, where the US and Japan lead the field. In 2000, there were 2.14 million graduates and postgraduates in Europe, 2.07 million in the US and 1.1 million in Japan. However, in the EU, 5.4 people per 1,000 were working in research, compared to 8.7 in the US and 9.7 in Japan. About 400,000 science and technology graduates of European universities are working in the US and the number is growing all the time. According to a recent survey by the European Commission, 75 percent of those who have gained a doctorate in the US choose to stay there after their studies are completed. Research funding The EU spends an average of 1.9 percent of its GDP on research, compared to 2.8 percent in the US and 2.98 percent in Japan. Only Sweden (3.65 percent) and Finland (3.40 percent) spend more. As for Greece, it languishes at the bottom of the list with just 0.67 percent. The gap is largely due to the low participation of the private sector in research. Private funding comprises 56 percent of total research funding in Greece, compared to 66.2 percent in the EU. Japan is ahead of all EU countries with 72.4 percent, followed by Finland (70.3) Sweden (67.8) and Germany (66.6 percent). Greece is second to last (24.2 percent), just ahead of Portugal (21.3 percent). EU measures In Lisbon in March 2002, the leaders of the EU reached an agreement to increase outlays on research to 3 percent of the GDP by 2010. According to the plan, this will create 700,000 new research jobs. The policy includes the harmonization of degrees awarded by universities in all member states, the creation of «mobility centers» (eventually to number 400) to help researchers and their families in moving about, and the adoption of a «scientific visa» for those from third countries. Institutes such as the Karolinska in Sweden, KUL in Belgium, Cambridge and Leyden universities have rallied to form the League of European Research Universities (LERU), aimed at promoting better use of human resources, higher quality and more coordinated research, and increased funding from private bodies. The European Research Council was formed for the same reason, and the celebration of a Research Year will «change the image of the researcher in society and attract more young people to a scientific career.» Some note the need for Europe to be less reserved about scientists from third countries, given that Americans roll out the red carpet for every promising scientist, irrespective of his or her country of origin.