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Marie Curie fellowships to encourage two way researcher mobility in FP6

Marie Curie fellowships are one means by which the Commission will
ensure mobility between the current EU candidate countries and
Member States in the Sixth Framework programme (FP6) , Georges
Bingen, Head of unit for the Commission’s Marie Curie fellowships
unit, said on 7 March.

Speaking at the ‘European enlargement: new opportunities for
research funding’ event, organised by the European Commission, the
German Federal Ministry of education and research and the European
liaison office of the German research organisations (KoWi) , Mr
Bingen highlighted how the Marie Curie schemes under FP6 will
provide maximum continuity and increased flexibility.

In FP6, the scheme will also be open to third country nationals,
and participants will not be subject to any age restrictions. A
reintegration measure is also proposed, including incentives to
return to Europe from abroad. Whereas the present framework
programme, FP5, saw only return salary costs fellowships for
researchers returning to the Community’s less favoured regions, FP6
will introduce reintegration grants for researchers returning to
all EU countries or Associated States.

Mr Bingen added that the Commission will also seek to promote
excellence through the Marie Curie schemes in FP6, with the
introduction of Marie Curie excellence grants, chairs and
excellence awards.

One concern among candidate countries is that increased researcher
mobility will mean a brain drain from the Central and East European
countries to the West. Regarding the Marie Curie fellowships, Mr
Bingen stated that the applications selected under FP5 up to
February 2002 have meant that 14 per cent of fellowship holders
have moved from candidate countries to the EU. However, only 0.5
per cent of fellowship holders have moved from the EU to one of the
candidate countries.

Responding to the fear of a brain drain, Norbert Kroó,
Secretary-General of the Hungarian Academy of sciences said that
the concept is not necessarily a bad thing.

‘Brain drain should not be considered negatively. If a scientist
can make more of a contribution somewhere else, that is a benefit
to society. What we must do is work on the replacements,’ he said.

Professor Wojciech Maciejewski, Chairman of the Commission for
international programmes of the Polish University rectors’
conference, expressed the concern that it is more difficult to find
short placements abroad for researchers than placements for the
entire duration of a PhD. This poses the problem that many
candidate countries are reluctant to sent their top young
scientists abroad to do their entire PhD. Andrzej Siemaszko, from
the Polish Academy of science and also the national contact point
in Warsaw, was more positive. He said that while Poland has trouble
sending post doc students abroad because they don’t have many,
Poland currently has a very high student population as well as high
unemployment, which he believes is likely to lead to a higher
number of students remaining in academia.

Dietrich Elchlepp from the German Federal Ministry of education and
research suggested that one of the reasons why few researchers go
to the candidate countries is that the institutions are unknown. He
asked those present to consider how awareness of universities and
research centres in the Central and East European countries could
be raised.

In addition to cooperation with the EU, many candidate countries
and Associated States and third countries are carrying on their
traditions of regional cooperation, for example the Visegrad Four
(Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland) , the Baltic States
and the Balkans. Talking to CORDIS News, Professor Kroó said that
while cooperation is good, and both tradition and historical
contacts should be preserved, ‘these regions should not become
ghettos, the iron curtain should not be reconstructed from the
inside.’

Professor Kroó lauded the role that science can play in regions
such as the Balkans, describing it as a ‘stabilising factor’. He
added that ‘money saved by not being afraid of an enemy in the East
can be used to fund this stability in terms of science.’

Source: CORDIS News attendance at a
Commission/bmb+f/KoWi event

For information on the event, please consult the
following web address:
http://www.kowi.de/aktuelles