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FOREWORD

The CNRS on Time for Europe

The house of Europe, with its solid foundation of fifteen member States, is now expanding to include ten new members. This institutional milestone also marks the convergence of many new challenges at this point in Europe's history, including the role it should play in the emergence of a knowledge-based society, as envisioned by EU heads-of-state in 2000 in Lisbon. Among the pillars of an enlarged Europe, research, training and innovation figure prominently and will serve as a basis for Europe's economic competitiveness in the future.

For its part, the CNRS has placed Europe and the construction of a European Research Area unequivocally at the center of its future planning and programming. For the CNRS, a Europe of research must give important place to fundamental research while fostering a continuous chain leading from discovery to application. This is all the more vital as it becomes clear that a European Research Area will only emerge as active ties among the scientific communities of the Union multiply. As necessary as they are, existing tools such as the Sixth Framework Programme or the many bilateral and multilateral agreements, and essential institutions like the European Science Foundation, will prove insufficient to the task unless each research actor in Europe considers seriously the European dimension of its work.

The measure of a European Research Area cannot be taken, however, by simply adding up the financial, structural, intellectual and human resources mobilized in favor of research across the Union; research is not just discovery but also strategic planning and foresight. The CNRS and other European research actors must unceasingly compare practices, share experiences, and work together to develop new avenues for common scientific effort. The CNRS is singularly well-equipped for this task, with its inter- and multidisciplinary research structure and the unique place it occupies in France's national research effort. It must on this basis act as a force for constructive reflection and proposition in the ongoing debate over the ways and means of building research Europe. Carrying this program successfully forward also means not forgetting the context of European science, which is characterised by regional activity on one hand and a strong international engagement – especially towards developing areas – on the other.

Above and beyond how research is organized, or how a common European science policy is enacted, rises the issue of science as one of the defining elements of culture, and this means grasping the European adventure in its geographic, historical and cultural fullness. Research has a determining role to play in this endeavor, as illustrated by CNRS activities of research and expertise on the great issues of the day including demographic shifts, migratory flux, questions of identity, environmental protection, social welfare, public health, communications, and nascent partnership relations with the “Other Europe” (Russia, the Ukraine, Turkey, and others). Here the advantageous juxtaposition of social and natural sciences comes into its own, as the CNRS exercises its capacities to plumb the history and current situation of Europe the better to grasp its future. This issue of CNRS Thema constitutes an invitation to discover Europe through the eyes of one of the new Europe's most active citizens, the researcher.

Following through on its commitment to contribute to the definition of the European scientific identity, the CNRS is organising at this pivotal moment in European integration a colloquium on the European Research Area and the role of public research organisations, universities, and private sector research.

Drawing on the wealth of its human resources, the complementarity of its many partners, and the abundant fruit of its research programmes, the CNRS takes its place in the European community of ideas, new challenges, and new responses.

               Gérard Mégie                         Geneviève Berger
        Chairman of the CNRS      Director General of the CNRS

Gérard Mégie, chairman of the CNRS, died on June 5, 2004, at the age of 58, following an extended illness.

The current director general of the CNRS is Bernard Larrouturou. He was appointed on July 31, 2003.


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