European research should be based on excellence, not on nationality, says Commissioner Moedas in Manchester


28 Jul 2016 Manchester - At a speech given in Manchester at EOSF16 earlier this week, EC Commissioner Carlos Moedas said the European Horizion 2020 research funding programme is based on excellence, not on nationality. So there is no reason to exclude UK researchers from European projects as long as the UK is legally part of the EU and Horizon 2020. Moedas also announced the new calls for 2017 for Horizon 2020 for a total of 8,5 billion euro. Citizen Science is one of the focal points as it can bring science and society closer together. Open Data, now obligatory for all European projects, can start a new era that restores trust and confidence in science, Moedas told the audience.

Part of Moedas talk focused on these topics he considers to be most important:

"Let's start with open access to data and research integrity.

The future of our knowledge economy will rely on public access to data, so that the European public can take part in the scientific debate and that the public can directly access scientific evidence on the issues they care about. People do not know what open access to data is at all. You know it, and I know it. But they do not know. But when you tell the story to people that very recently in San Francisco, an experience was made with a deep learning system, the system detected cancer was 50% better than a group of 10 experts in radiology on lung cancer. And the experts got it wrong 7% of the time. And the system got zero falls-negatives, then people understand data. Because it is their lives.

But with greater availability of scientific data, comes the need to ensure the integrity of what is being shared. The public needs to know that research results are not falsified, fabricated or plagiarised.

This is why we're putting more focus on research integrity in Horizon 2020 model grant agreements. And I am happy to announce that the grant agreements for Horizon 2020 have been updated. They will include clearer rules on Research integrity, making sure that all researchers but also research institutions know their obligations. Because it is not just about the individual researcher, it is also about the institution and the responsibility of that institution.

And this brings us to citizen science.

We also need to find ways for the European public to take part in the processes behind scientific discovery, to help decide the priorities for public research funding and, so the European scientific community can use crowdsourced solutions with the volume and diversity to provide new insights.

Take, for example, the potential of gaming to help scientists multiply the number of brains working on a single problem at any given time.

Five years ago, gamers famously resolved the structure of an enzyme that causes an Aids-like disease in monkeys. Scientists had been working on the problem for over a decade. By using an online puzzle game, gamers solved the structure in just three weeks.

This is the kind of stories people understand.

So, to ensure Europe leads the way on open science, I can announce that, from today, the Commission has made open data the default for all Horizon 2020 projects.

And, this morning, we have approved the next set of calls under Horizon 2020. It are fifty calls, worth around 8,5 billion euro in 2017, in areas ranging from food security, to smart cities, to understanding migration.

For all projects funded by these calls, we will expect the data generated to be open access.

We will lead by example.

And I am currently working with colleagues in the Commission on our proposed revisions to EU copyright law. The aim is to introduce a research exception in copyright that will apply across all Member States, and which will provide a predictable legal framework for Text and Data Mining. In simple words, you can Text and Data Mine without being worried about copyrights.

The trends towards open science and open data are not something we can stop but that we have to embrace. So we should lead change, rather than adapt to it later."

Moedas continues wit a personal note, before continuing to policy topics again.

"Of course, talking about Horizon 2020 here in the UK, I know that there is a great deal of uncertainty about what the future holds. I have heard concerns about British organisations being dropped from EU projects. There are concerns about staff from other EU Member States still being able to work in British research institutions.

I wish I could give you all the answers, but for now I can make two clear statements.

First, for as long as the UK is a member of the European Union, EU law continues to apply and the UK retains all rights and obligations of a Member State. This of course includes the full eligibility for funding under Horizon 2020 and no-one should have any doubt about it.

But more importantly Horizon 2020 will continue to be evaluated based on merits and excellence, and not on nationality. So I urge the European scientific community to continue to choose their project partners on the basis of excellence. I think that is the major difference that we make in Europe, is that we have a programme that has never been based on nationality, it has been based on excellence. So I urge the European scientific community to continue to choose their project partners on the base of that, on the base of excellence. And I think that if this is clear for me that will also be clear for Horizon 2020

So ladies and gentlemen, today my message to you is this. By continuing to allow the gap between public perception and scientific ambition to increase, we risk, at best, apathy and, at worst, complete distrust at a crucial juncture.

Europe should not only be part of a Global Research Area that embraces open science, we should lead the way to this new Global Research Area.

Following the agreement by EU science ministers in May, Europe is the first region of the world to make open access the norm for all scientific publications. But I have not seen that in the news. I have not seen that anywhere. This is the great news about Europe, but you do not see it. You do not see that 28 people around the table decided that Open Access to scientific publications will be the norm in Europe. But we were probably not able to explain to the people the importance of that for their future. And now the largest research funding programme in the world will introduce open data as a default for all projects.

And it is our job to explain that somehow we are getting into a new era, a new "Republic of Letters": one that is inclusive, one that values its people as much as progress and one that restores trust and confidence in science."

Ad Emmen