How findings from research can serve as a basis for better decision-making on the regional level was at the centre of discussions at the first edition of "Science meets Regions" in Brussels on Monday 7 November. During the event, politicians and scientists from EU regions presented their experiences of the pilot exchanges, which were held throughout 2016.
The event hosted by the European Committee of Regions (CoR), together with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission, gathered over two hundred representatives of local and regional authorities, research institutions and universities including political decision makers and scientists. It comes in the awake of the success of the "Science meets Parliaments" programme launched in 2015 and the recent launch of the Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies, which is a new instrument to support regional policy-making.
Opening the event Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions, stated: "We live in a complex world where our lives, economies, environment and political systems are interlinked as never before. At the same time, we face a tendency in politics for oversimplification and populism. Scientific evidence, combined with our local knowledge and proximity to citizens, will lead to a better understanding of the challenges facing Europe’s regions and cities. This will allow us to make the right evidence-based policy decisions. That is why regular exchanges between politicians and the scientific community are so important."
Vladimir Šucha, Director-General of the Joint Research Centre, said: "Science cannot and should not replace policy-making, but support it with knowledge and tools created at European, regional and local levels. Therefore we are committed to support creating stronger links between policy-makers and researchers at all levels of governance."
In response, the following local events were highlighted:
Scientists and policymakers from Baden Württemberg (Germany) discussed best practices and innovative concepts for smart energy solutions at local and regional level, which can contribute to sustainable greenhouse gas emission reductions in the energy sector.
Wiesbaden (Germany), at the Parliament of the State of Hessen, hosted a discussion on the stability of the financial market with an emphasis on Capital Markets Union, sustainable transport and electromobility as well as food safety with relation to public health.
Active and healthy aging was at the heart of the discussion in Trieste (Italy). The participants analysed three areas of dialogue: health, technology and human as well as social capital.
The event in Sofia (Bulgaria) focused on the intertwined themes of climate-energy-innovation, including innovative solutions and smart management for a low-carbon economy as well as smart solutions for urban mobility and clean transport.
The leading topic of the science and policy dialogue in Bratislava (Slovakia) was the quality of the Slovak secondary education in comparison with other EU and OECD countries.
Further events are already planned to take place in Espoo, Finland, and in the Basque region in Spain.
The President of the European Committee of the Regions will present the outcome of the discussions in the high level debate during the "Science meets Parliaments 2016" meeting at the European Parliament on 8 November 2016. In order to explore further synergies in the cooperation between the CoR and the JRC - which is already ongoing since 2014 - a CoR delegation will also visit the JRC premises in Ispra, Italy, at the end of November 2016.