EU citizens affirm value of science and call for greater cooperation at EU level

According to a new study published by the European Commission this month EU citizens are convinced that the development of research is essential for their countries, and agree with the idea that “more should be done”.

EU citizens do, furthermore support a more coordinated European research policy and espouse the need to pool human and financial resources to do research on issues of common interest such health, environment or energy.

The study was based on a series of discussions which were carried out in the 27 European Union member states during summer 2008 and which included men and women aged 17 to 60 years, drawn from a mix of social groups. During the discussions, participants were asked for their opinions on a number of potentially controversial areas of science, such as experiments on animals, work with stem cells and biofuels.

The study found that people are generally positive about the developments in the medico-pharmaceutical field, research into solutions to energy, environment and climate problems, and the invention or improvement of products that make life easier. Concerns are however more likely to be voiced about the risks of genetic manipulation, GMOs, other issues related to health, preoccupations linked to the environment, and the use of science for destructive purposes such as nuclear and chemical armaments.

Other interesting findings from the study were that in general EU citizens feel that research is weak and insufficient in their own countries and are in favour of improving researcher’s conditions to encourage them to stay in their country rather than contributing to “the brain drain”. The study also found that while the concept of EU research policy is not widely known about, there is an almost complete consensus in favour of it both existing and being strengthened.

For more information about this study, please click here

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