“A joint European initiative is essential for finding solutions to the great challenges to society. It is positive that the Commission has presented ambitious proposals for research and innovation related to these challenges in Horizon 2020,” says Tora Aasland who just recently stepped down as Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education.
Marine and maritime research must be strengthened
Former Minister Aasland believes that marine and maritime research should be
strengthened in the proposal on the framework programme.
“Knowledge about the ocean is crucial for understanding climate change and for managing the marine areas. The ocean is also a source of renewable energy and ‘blue growth’ in Europe,” she says.
Former Minister Aasland and her staff at the Ministry of Education and Research made the Norwegian position known in a meeting with other European research ministers as well as in a letter to the European Commission.
Social research and simplification
The letter states that humanities and social research must be given an integral place in an interdisciplinary approach to the societal challenges. This is true especially for research on security issues, in which societal perspectives are just as important as the technological ones.
Norway strongly supports the planned simplification of EU research, but has also made its own recommendations in this area. The main objective of simplification must be to create a funding model that covers the real costs of the research projects, regardless of subject area, type of institution and country.
The gender dimension
Norway would also like to see greater emphasis on the gender dimension in the framework programme, and recommends an incentive system to achieve an integrated gender perspective in the projects. Better gender balance should be an objective in all decision-making forums, including the programme boards. Norway proposes that both the Commission and the participating countries establish clear targets for the percentage of women in the research system that must be reached by 2020.
The road ahead
The Commission's proposal for the framework programme will be deliberated in the European Council and then in the European Parliament in 2012. If these
two bodies agree, more detailed issues and rules for participation in the individual programmes will then be discussed.
A final decision is expected to be taken in autumn 2012. The first calls for proposals under Horizon 2020 are planned to be issued prior to July 2013.