Building the European Research Area: Joint calls on the eve of Horizon2020

Check out my blog post: Building the European Research Area: Joint calls on the eve of Horizon2020

on the 18th and 19th of September 2013, I attended the Implementing Joint Calls training workshop organised by ERALEARN.

At this workshop I made three observations. I wrote about them in the recent blog post of the ideas on europe blog.

Tap in or miss out

My article on the progress of the HorizonTap idea was published yesterday (23/5/2013) in ResearchEurope, in the special issue for the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) conference in July (

Here is the article: 


Consultation “Integrating activities” results are published!

The aim of “Integrating activities” is to provide a wider and more efficient access to, and use of, the research infrastructures existing in EU Member States, Associated Countries, and at international level when appropriate.

The consultation addressed stakeholders, i.e. operators of research infrastructures and user communities, in a bottom-up manner, in order to map possible future topics of Integrating Activities.

Research infrastructures are defined here as facilities, resources, systems and related services that are used by research communities to conduct top level research in their respective fields. This definition covers: major scientific equipment or sets of instruments, as well as knowledge-containing resources such as collections, archives and thematic data infrastructures, together with the associated human resources. Research infrastructures may be “single-sited”, “distributed”, or “virtual” (the service being provided electronically).

Results of the Consultation on possible topics for future activities for integrating and opening existing national research infrastructures are now published!

Science in Policy and Policy in Science: two events coming up

I am pleased to say that I will have the joy of attending two events next month – from which I will be tweeting hopefully.

Science in Policy

As a geekmanifesto groupie, i would not miss the CSaP annual conference 2013 “Future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall“. As mentioned in a previous post, next month Sir John Beddington gives his place as Chief Scientific Advisor to Sir Mark Walport. Thus, the aim of the conference is to launch a collection of essays charting future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall.

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On the real power of a chief scientific advisor

Science’s profile of Anne Glover Europe’s Science Superwoman Struggles to Get Off the Ground

And an blog post by Roger Pielke Jr No Superpowers for the EU Science Adviser

which includes the following speech by Anne Glover

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Research and Innovation: Commission widens search for expert advisors for Horizon 2020

Research and Innovation: Commission widens search for expert advisors for Horizon 2020

The EC is asking experts from all fields to participate in shaping the agenda of Horizon 2020. These people are going to advise what should be the themes of the Calls that should be launched in each societal challenge in the context of Horizon2020. It will be interesting to see how many nominations they will receive, who these people will be and how they will be selected. In any case these people will have a strong influence on how funding will be distributed over the next 7 years. Very strategic posts!

UK Science funding and the EU: some thoughts on Paul Nurse’s article

Paul Nurse talking in the observer on “The benefits to UK research, from finance to international collaboration, make a strong case for continued EU membership”

“Given the increasing importance of science for many aspects of our lives, what will the impact be on UK science if we are in or out of Europe?

click here to read the rest of the article

I have followed with great interest the comments section at the bottom of the blog. Most of the comments come from different people who refer to a single website, a website for a referendum ( Most of the comments are from people that want the UK out of the EU.

At the same, an interesting point was raised by the first commenter, a point that is close to my heart:

There was only one comment that provided some data

British annual budget:                                                                             £676,600,000,000

British annual contribution to the EU:                                                     £11,732,802,927

British annual science budget (this is the best figure I could find):             £5,500,000,000

EU annual contribution to British science:                                                £740,000,000

British budget as a percentage of total spending: 0.8%

So, extrapolating that spending into the amount of money we’d get back if we withdrew from the EU, 0.8% of £11,732,802,927 is £93,862,423

Sir Paul Nurse is entirely correct. British science is nearly 8 times better off with the EU, than without.

… and that’s just financially.

As I said on twitter, if the UK is indeed getting prepared for a referendum – given how little UK citizens know about the contributions of the EU to their life and their country – data should be gathered and presented so that people would be able to vote based on evidence. I know this would be hard so at least in the case of science, organisations such as CaSE and people working on campaigns such as ScienceIsVitalshould start gathering data on what is the EU’s contribution to British Science and how would an exit affect British science, before it is too late. It would be interesting to find out if the data above are correct! (of course if such data exists today please give me the reference since I am really interested – I am really interested to have the best evidence to base my argument or to change it if the data says so). In addition, this is one issue in which the recommendations developed in the Geek Manifesto could really show if they can in reality shine or not.

Overview of the presence and influence of interest groups in decision-making in the EU

[this was my essay for the European Integration course]

1. Introduction

From the very beginning of the European Union (EU), interest groups have been an important element in its evolution, an element inextricably interwoven with the functioning of European institutions. The term interest group (IG) is used to describe organisations or bodies that represent trade unions, firms, farmers, local and regional authorities, consumer groups, environmental and animal protection interests etc (Labdas, Mendrinou, Hatziyanni, 2009).
IG influence greatly contributes to the EU’s democratic legitimacy and to the formation a common reference framework for the various European public spheres. A coexistence of a variety of public spheres can be observed, which are evolving through complex interactions between the many different material and virtual factors that shape European policies (Labdas, Mendrinou, Hatziyanni, 2009).
As a result, the presence of economic and social IGs has been ever increasing since the mid-1980s, indicating that their political mobilisation has been indeed considerable. This increase has been partly due to the complexity of the EU’s multilevel governance and the central position of highly fragmented European institutions. As a result, a great range of access points has been available to these groups to exert their influence on the decision-making process.
In addition, due to the constant criticism of the democratic deficit (lack of accountability, transparency of decisions and participatory opportunities, Michalowitz (2007)), the European Commission (EC) has demonstrated increasing openness towards IGs (e.g. White Paper on Governance or the Transparency Initiative, Kohler-Koch and Finke (2007)). In fact, nowadays, any explanation of policy outcomes without mentioning the contribution of IGs would be incomplete, especially since the influence of policy outcomes is their main goal.

European Citizen’s Agenda of Science and Innovation

I finally got back to Athens 2 days ago: I was supposed to be away in Paris for 8 days but I ended up staying for 2 weeks due to the volcano eruption. I cannot really complain. The only problem is that when you are stranded away from home it is more difficult to write your blog!

Anyway the meeting in Paris was related to knowledge, science, youth, communication and policy issues and I learned a lot of interesting things that I will mention in my future posts. For the time being I suggest to the European people that might fall into this blog, to go and vote at the website that is mentioned below.

The following text i copied pasted it from the e-mail I was sent:

Science and innovation have played an essential role in our history. The search for knowledge to advance together is one of the pillars of European culture. Continue reading