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EDITO
Sunday, 20 August 2017
Around 60 per cent of European citizens believe that the EU should spend more on scientific research, according to the results of two new Eurobarometer reports on the public's perception of science and technology and the ethics that underpin them.

The surveys were conducted face-to-face in people's homes between 3 January and 15 February this year, and covered all 25 EU Member States, the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and Turkey) and three of the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland).

Generally, the surveys revealed a 'very positive and optimistic perception of what science and technology can actually do for humanity in terms of medical research, improvement of the quality of life, as well as the opportunities for future generations.' Indeed, 87 per cent of respondents said that science and technology have improved their quality of life, while 77 per cent believe that they will continue to do so for future generations.
Less encouraging, however, was the finding that many Europeans consider themselves poorly informed on issues concerning science and technology, and the survey identified a link between a lack of information and a low interest in scientific issues.
Finally, those currently lobbying for a significant increase in EU funding for research will be encouraged to read that 71 per cent of citizens agree that collaborative research at EU level is growing in importance, and that 64 per cent feel that our economy can only become more competitive by developing and applying the most advanced technologies.
As UK and Europe's environmental account plunges into the red, the UK urgently needs to take a new development path that puts more emphasis on the planet's precious resources.

In the run up to the G8 WWF has published a new report, Europe 2005 - The Ecological Footprint, showing that the twenty five members of the European Union have accumulated an environmental deficit of 220 per cent of their biological capacity. This means that Europeans now rely on the resources of the rest of the world to make up their increasing ecological deficit.

Stuart Bond, Sustainable Development Officer for WWF-UK, said: "Economic growth at the expense of depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation simply shifts the problem to other parts of the world. Reducing our pressure on nature is essential for the UK's prosperity and the development of African nations. Unless an environmental agenda goes hand in hand with a development agenda our credibility as an international leader will be in question."
Europe's consumption levels have to be met by importing natural resources, such as wood, metals or fish, from other countries. But, unlike any responsible business that carefully records its spending and income, Europe has so far not kept track of its ecological spending.
The WWF report measures the EU Ecological Footprint, which compares people's use of natural resources with nature's ability to produce them. With 7 per cent of the world population, the EU uses 17 per cent of the world resources supply. Its Ecological Footprint is 2.2 times the area of Europe, a figure that has risen by almost 70 per cent since 1961.
EU countries with the highest demand per person are Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Ireland and France, using between three and four times the world sustainable average. Hungary, Slovakia and Poland have the lowest demand, but are still using about twice the average amount of resources available per person.

WWF argues that if the UK wants to be competitive in the short and long term, it is time to build a "smart economy" that decouples economic growth from resource consumption.
Tony Blair must give a higher priority to investments in ecosystems, granting EU funds conditional on the protection of nature and developing certification systems to ensure the sustainability of product manufacturing and resource use.
As energy consumption is a major cause of the UK's Ecological Footprint, moving from a fossil fuel economy to renewable energy economy would be a key way of reducing our environmental deficit. Tony Blair must take Climate Change seriously by hastening our moves to a low carbon economy and by making sure that the environmental agenda goes hand in hand with the development agenda.
Other measures that could be taken include eliminating perverse subsidies that have adverse social, economic and environmental effects and ensuring that development and aid policy is coherent with other policies, particularly environment.
"Time matters in addressing this ecological debt. The longer the G8 leaders ignore the problem the more expensive the investment required to correct it will be, and the greater the risk that critical ecosystems will be eroded beyond the point at which they can easily recover," added Stuart Bond.
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What the EU should do

If real progress is to be made in 2005 on reducing poverty through trade, the EU must look towards its longer-term enlightened interests and rein in its search for short-term commercial advantage. To contribute to global prosperity and security, including Europe’s, it should start actively backing developing countries’ concerns at the G8, the WTO, and beyond. This paper sets out what Oxfam believes the EU should do in the run-up to the WTO Ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005.
They say ‘great minds think alike’ but the essence of large-scale integrated projects is to put the best minds – frequently from different disciplines – towards solving major scientific problems. One European project, called Ensemble, takes this grouping principle to the next level, assembling partners from all over the world to come up with more accurate predictions for climate change.
Predicting climate change – whether from natural or man-made causes – is notoriously difficult because of uncertainties in weather forecasting and problems with data reliability and key processes used, lament scientists. For the first time, thanks to European Union funding, a group of research teams spanning the globe will develop a common aggregated climate forecasting system covering various timescales and spatial spreads – i.e. regional, local, national.

More accurate climate prediction has a number of immediate and longer-term benefits. Scientists – and other users of the systems that the Ensemble projects aims to develop – will be able to forewarn authorities when there is greater risk of unnatural weather extremes, causing disasters, such as floods, landslides and avalanches. Farmers will be able to plan ahead for potential droughts or unseasonal weather that could damage crops. Policy-makers will be better informed about the environmental impacts of climate change, and act accordingly.

The Ensemble research consortium is made up of 70 partners from the EU, Switzerland, Australia and the USA who will spend five years and €15 million in EU funding developing what it calls an "ensemble prediction system based on state-of-the-art high-resolution, global, regional and whole Earth system models". Led by the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research at the UK Met Office, Ensemble (short for Ensemble-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts) will validate these models against current weather data to come up with more accurate forecasts of future climate aberrations – seasonally, over decades and even longer timescales.
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Monday, 20 June 2005
BRUSSELS EUROPEAN COUNCIL
16 and 17 JUNE 2005
Presidency conclusions interesting the ACP countries

Relations with the ACP
The European Council welcomes the conclusion of the negotiations on the revision of the Cotonou Agreement, and the agreement reached on this subject with the ACP States on 23 February 2005. This revised agreement, while maintaining the Cotonou acquis, represents an improvement of the partnership between the ACP States, the Community and its Member States, in all its component parts.

Relations with Africa
The European Council welcomes the increase in dialogue and cooperation between the EU and all the African countries, made possible by the affirmation of the African Union (AU) as the political framework able to put forward African responses to the challenges of development. The purpose of this dialogue is an EU-Africa strategic partnership focusing on four main lines: four peace and security, governance, regional integration and trade, and development. The European Council welcomes the boosting of peace-keeping and security maintenance capabilities in Africa and the fact that the relevant structures have been made operational, particularly in the framework of the African Union and the sub-regional organisations which the EU has pledged to support.
In view of the close link between peace and security, on the one hand, and the development of the African countries, on the other, the European Council reaffirms the EU's determination to continue supporting the development of the African continent in compliance with the principles of equality and African ownership. In this context, holding the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon as soon as possible is an important objective. The European Council also commends the priority treatment given to Africa in the G8 proceedings and has taken note of the contribution by the "Commission for Africa".