Gå til indhold
You are here: Home The Ministry The Minister Speeches OLD speeches 2012 EU-programme tackles the great challenges

EU-programme tackles the great challenges

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at Copenhagen Research Forum at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) 16 January 2012.

Check against delivery.

Societal challenges are linked

Dear Copenhagen Research Forum. Dear researchers. It is a pleasure to be here at DTU today among such talented company.

I hope you've had some constructive workshops and sessions. I was recently looking at the BBC website, at a theme on demographics and global population. They had an interesting calculator tool.

By inputting your date of birth, it could calculate your position in the world population. When I was born on June 17th 1976, I was approximately person number 4.1 billion.

When my daughter was born around 2 years ago, she was person number 6.8 billion. And as we know, the world's population rounded 7 billion by the end of 2011.

And the prognosis is for 9 billion by 2050. Population growth is a great challenge. Population growth increases demand for food and goods. People want TVs, fridges and mobile phones. And they want different forms of transport. It's putting enormous pressure on our resources – on our energy sources – and on our climate. It is clear that societal challenges are linked.

On top of that, Europe faces a real financial crisis. There are more than 25 million unemployed. And there is increased competition from emerging markets. There are plenty of challenges to tackle. And this is where knowledge and innovation play a key role.

Horizon 2020

Europe's future is dependent on science and innovation. And the European Commission is taking the right path by strengthening the forthcoming framework programme for research and innovation – Horizon 2020.

The programme is based on a challenge-driven approach and identifies six grand challenges – as you know well:

  • Health and demographic change
  • Food security and sustainable agriculture
  • Clean and efficient energy
  • Green transport
  • Climate change and resource efficiency
  • Inclusive and innovative societies

All six challenges are very important to Europe. The challenges are universal and interdisciplinary. They call for long-term investments and sustainable solutions. At the same time they present an opportunity for European companies to create new products and services and take advantage of new markets.

Horizon 2020 is designed to help bring more good ideas to the market. It is important to recognise that the societal challengers are linked. And a cross-disciplinary approach to solving these challenges is important. This includes for example, involving social sciences and the humanities.

We must ensure that the challenges are addressed in a fully integrated and holistic manner. Input from all research disciplines is necessary. And we must strengthen cross-disciplinary scientific dialogue. Here is where Horizon 2020 will make a difference. The leading principle in Horizon 2020 is excellence.

  • Horizon 2020 will support the best ideas and develop talent within Europe.
  • It will provide researchers with access to priority research infrastructure.
  • And it will make Europe an attractive location for the world's best researchers.

Horizon 2020 will support the most talented individuals and their teams to carry out frontier research of the highest quality by building on the success of the European Research Council (ERC).

In my view it is very important to ensure a good balance between starting grants and advanced grants of ERC. The first one is an instrument which allows young talented researchers to grow in excellence. The latter is for state-of-the-art world class research. And they are – of course – connected.

I would also like to touch on a delicate subject. Unfortunately EU programmes are often seen as bureaucratic, and in some cases that's true. Maybe some of you have experienced this?

During the Danish Presidency we will work – together with the Commission, The European Parliament and the member states - to make Horizon 2020 a flexible programme.

There must be less time spent on application, forms and paperwork so that researchers have more time in the lab. And I would like to stress that the European Commission has a clear desire to simplify rules for participation. And give the programme a clear structure.

The Danish Presidency will work to ensure progress in the Horizon 2020 negotiations – so that a joint decision by the Council and the European Parliament can be reached in a timely manner to create continuity of the framework programme.

Thanks for your contribution

Population growth, climate change, energy crises, increased global competition, a market slump and the debt crisis. Europe's challenges are great. And the challenges are linked.

But knowledge and innovation are part of the solution. And we need scientists from all over Europe and from different academic fields brought together to address these societal challenges.

The European Commission is paving the way for a significant budget increase. 80 billion euros for Horizon 2020 – which will be the world's largest research programme. It will be a meaningful and important research programme. Which is why I am incredibly grateful that you – the Copenhagen Research Forum – will contribute to developing Horizon 2020.

I believe this is the first time in the history of the EU-framework programmes, that researchers, without the involvement of other stakeholders and interests, will formulate a research-based critical view on the research agenda of Europe.

I would like to thank you in advance for your engagement and contribution. It is crucial that we have qualified knowledge to underpin sound and responsible decision making.

And I look forward to Liselotte Højgaard's presentation at the ministerial conference on February 1st, where she will present the conclusions of your work.

Thank you all very much.

last modified Dec 21, 2021