Newsletter No.6 March-1999

In this Newsletter, we introduce, in a successive manner, the global change research institutes and their research activities in the world. For the fifth time, Mr. Soichi Mori, Deputy Director, Frontier Research Promotion Department, Japan Marine Science and Technology Center, introduces the present state of the earth science in Europe.

Interview at the Ministry of National Education,Research, and Technology, France
* Mori (right):
"What is the priority research of the 21st century in solid earth science?"
* Prof.Courtillot,a former special counselor to the Minister of
National Education,Research, and Technology,France (left):
"The verification of the long-term global dynamics by clarifying the interactions between the solid sphere and the fluid sphere."

Bubble and Euro

In spite of global warming, it still seems to snow hard at times. Brussels Airport was, in fact, covered in a mantle of snow. It was December 7th, 1998.

In a series of interviews with European Earth scientists, I visited Directorate Generals XI and XII of the European Commission at Brussels. Europe, today, is being unified rapidly in political, economic, and social aspects. Science and technology are no exception. Each European country is now taking more account of working at the European level, and its R &D have become interdependent. Even at the Kyoto Conference of 1997 (COP-3), a historical event for the diplomacy of the global environment, European countries acted in concert. They brought up the concept of an "EU Bubble", which signifies the EU as a unit of nation, and made an international promise to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 8 percent from the 1990 level. At the interview, I asked how the target will be achieved under the initiative of the EC.

The EC's fundamental policy on science and technology is specified under "The Framework Programme of the European Community for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities." Just three weeks before my visit, the European Parliament and the EC Council reached an agreement on the Fifth Framework Programme. Through calls for proposals, the specific work programs will be determined and implemented between 1999 and 2002.A total of about 15 billion euro, or 18 billion U.S. dollars, will be invested in the Programme. To respond to the major socio-economic challenges of today's Europe, the Fifth Framework Programme has set the four problem-solving Thematic Programmes:" quality of life and management of living resources," "user-friendly information society," "competitive and sustainable growth, "and "energy, environment and sustainable development." As an example, the key actions of the fourth Thematic Programme include "Sustainable management and quality of water," "Global change, climate and biodiversity, "and "Sustainable marine ecosystems. "The support for research infrastructures has, for the first time, been identified as one of the three Horizontal Programmes, which underpin and complement the Thematic Programmes. Its objectives are to promote the utilization of large facilities and excellent centers, to link relevant facilities by network, and to develop telematics networks for research, in order to make the best use of research facilities and thus enhance the unity of research structure in Europe. Such targeted investment by the EC is inseparably related to the multidisciplinary evaluation of research plans. In addition to annual reviews, the final evaluation of the Framework Programme will be conducted by the Advisory Groups of different disciplines. Research proposals on climate change will also be assessed from the aspects of socio-economic and natural sciences. "The influence of climate change in each region is a serious concern of tax payers in Europe, who support the EC programs," commented a unit head of Directorate General XII. Why is it necessary to initiate a research program at the European level, rather than at the national level? This is, of course, an essential criterion in assessing the program.

Immediately after the series of interviews, EU's common currency, the EURO, appeared in the world money market.

Soichi Mori, Deputy Director
Frontier Research Promotion Department
Japan Marine Science and Technology Center
(Translated by Tamaki Hino, assistant interviewer)

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