Enric Banda

Enric Banda: Shaping science policy from the bottom up

Fuelled by its members’ dedication towards ensuring Europe’s future research and technology endeavours prevail, EuroScience continues to grow. Former EuroScience President, Enric Banda offers an overview of the organisation’s increasing influence on science policy over the past 15 years.

What influence has Euroscience had to date at the European level?

Euroscience uses its own activity to try to influence policy makers. As an example, we have been active from day one on career development at European level. We have therefore been an actor in this issue. In another critical issue, the creation of the European Research Council (ERC) has been an outstanding example of the ‘bottom-up’ voice of the European research community driving policy. Of course, we have used the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) as a platform to express our views in the most high profile of our activities. To be honest, however, I believe we have to do more.

How has Euroscience contributed to science and technology representation?

Contributing to European integration was one of the goals expressed by Euroscience founders. We have done so by promoting and securing the European Research Area; by being at the forefront of influencing policies in areas that affect the governance of science in Europe; by supporting and taking part in several Framework Programme projects and responding to Framework Programme calls whenever appropriate; and last but not least, by working on a stronger sense of European identity and culture of science through our own independent activities.

One of Euroscience’s key goals since the very beginning has been to support young scientists. Its first President, the late Claude Cordon, took personal responsibility to ensure that this goal was imbedded in Euroscience’s genetic code. He set the stage for us to work not just on improving career prospects and working conditions, but by giving the young people a voice.

Perhaps the most high profile of all Euroscience’s activities today is the biennial ESOF. It has become arguably the most influential platform for science in Europe, bringing together such disparate groups as scientists, media, policy makers, business people, and the public in a relaxed environment to encourage informal discourse amongst all parties.

What remains to be done?

Euroscience has achieved a good deal in its relatively short, 15-year life. However, a lot more needs to be done to ensure that Europe remains competitive in a global context, to establish a first-class working environment that attracts and keeps the very best scientists in Europe, that attracts the best brains from anywhere in the world, to nurture the next generation of scientists, to enable science to take its place at the heart of European culture and, last, but most certainly not least, to promote dialogue between science and society. Thanks to Euroscience, individuals with a vested interest in science now have a voice on these and other pressing issues, but the community still needs vital support to speak louder and be heard more widely.

What is your vision for the next 10 years?

I believe our mission and objectives have not changed significantly from those set by Euroscience founders. We have adapted to new circumstances and we will have to keep adapting. To be more influential, it is clear that we need to mobilise the scientific community: by becoming a Euroscience member, every European scientist has a clearer opportunity to make themselves heard. We have a vision for an enlarged membership, in which all members contribute actively in debates about the future of science research and how it impacts on society.

Article adapted from an interview, whose extracts are reproduced courtesy of International Innovation.

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