Answers of the German parties to the questions of the HRK prior to the European elections
In Germany, the CDU, CSU, SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP, Die Linke and the AfD were questioned. The English translation is provided by the HRK. Only the original German statements give the official view of the parties.
Available answers of the French parties are published by the CPU.
The answers of the Polish parties are published by the CRASP.
1) Proportion of the EU budget for research and innovation
In December 2012, the European Parliament called for a budget of 100 billion euros for the The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Given the upcoming revision of the medium-term financial framework, are you still committed to the goal of securing a research budget of 100 billion euros to ensure that Europe remains competitive? How do you intend to achieve this goal?
The Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) wishes to deny the EU any specific responsibility with regard to research policy. Transnational cooperation should only be necessary for extremely complex research projects, yet even they can be organised nationally and even across EU borders (e.g. CERN). Given the massive squandering of public funds in some areas of EU research funding, all EU-wide research projects should be reviewed to assess whether they could be organised more efficiently with sole national responsibility or with the cooperation of a few Member States. The AfD is of the opinion that neither a pan-European research policy, nor specific EU administration, nor a responsible Commissioner are necessary.
The AfD will therefore campaign in the forthcoming revision to limit the centralist proliferation of EU responsibility to a level that offers real added value to Europe and its Member States. As such, the AfD will not support a specific figure of € 100 billion just because of its symbolic value but rather, in the spirit of subsidiarity, will work towards arriving at a budget that actually serves a competitive Europe, something that could result in a reduction.
Yes, the orientation point of 100 billion still applies to us GRÜNE, and, naturally adjusted for the remaining years under the current EU's multiannual financial framework, will also represent the 'green' demands for the planned revision of the multiannual financial framework. However, the prerequisite for its implementation is that the planned revision is used to institute a significant reorientation of European development policy towards strategic future-orientated fields. We remain committed to this, even in view of the anticipated resistance of the Member States. Unfortunately, we were unable to assert our demand for a revision with a qualified majority in the Council, which would have eased a significant realignment of funding, such as this, and would have facilitated an increase in research and education funding.
In the negotiations surrounding the multiannual financial framework,
we GRÜNE have decisively committed ourselves to increased funding of education, research and development. In contrast to the Conservative, Social Democratic and Liberal parliamentary groups, we have refused to accept the disproportionately large cuts made by the Member States to the original proposal put forward by the Commission in this area of the budget. Consequently, we refused to support the decision on the multiannual financial framework.
Until the planned revision in 2016, the GRÜNE will fight to ensure that the existing upper limits of funding are fully utilised, that all bodies involved in the issuing of funds work toward possible simplifications, so that funds can flow quickly. The GRÜNE advocate an end to the financing of the ITER nuclear fusion reactor and targeted investment in green future-centric technologies.
The CDU is committed to strengthening future investment within the framework of the EU budget. We are proud that we were able to increase funding for the new "Horizon 2020" Framework Programme for Innovation and Research to a record level of around € 77 billion, making it the world's largest coherent research and investment programme. It provides the foundation for additional stimulus in European research beyond borders and brings us closer to our goal of making Europe the leading knowledge-based society.
We also wish to see further increases in EU research expenditure; however under no circumstances should this be financed with debt. We have to strictly adhere to the upper EU budget limit and the financial framework of the EU. That is precisely why we are working towards a policy of strengthening competitiveness within the EU which can create the opportunity to increase the research budget, and we support continued gradual restructuring of the budget in favour of future investment.
Investing in research and innovation ensures the competitiveness of Germany and Europe. Our economic success and prosperity are based on the ideas, creativity, tireless diligence and efforts of our citizens. We can support these efforts with the "Horizon 2020" programme, the new framework programme for research and innovation, with the impressive figure of € 77 billion. Increased expenditure in research remains our goal but on the premise that it does not involve debt.
The FDP has always pledged itself to this goal and fought to ensure that adequate budgetary funding is provided for research and development. Instead of rubber-stamping well-trodden subsidies in times of tight budgets, the principle of the FDP is to create more economic power and jobs where there is growth: with the small, innovative ideas that promote the competitiveness of all and our future opportunities in global competition. Research needs to be funded for more innovative business models and products to be brought to the market. The Liberals therefore wish to continue investing more EU funds in research and development in order to find solutions for Europe and its citizens and to ensure that our brightest minds stay in Europe. Europe possesses very little in terms of raw materials. Our minds are our capital.
The FDP will therefore dedicate itself to ensuring that there is a redeployment of funding from other sectors during the revision of the medium-term financial framework of HORIZON 2020 in order to achieve the goal of € 100 billion for the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development.
DIE LINKE (The Left) supports the call by the European Parliament to provide more funding for the 8th Research Framework Programme for 2014 – 2020. However, a realignment of the content and the goals of the Research Framework Programme are needed prior to this.
In future, there needs to be improved mobility and diversity, as well as social and regional balance in the European science landscape, in a manner better than has been the case to date. Universities and scientific institutions can and should adopt a critical perspective on European society and contribute to overcoming the economic and social crisis. To achieve these goals, DIE LINKE advocates a significant increase in the EU budget for research to up to three percent of GDP (currently: 1.23 percent).
Within the context of the long-term Horizon 2020 programme, which defines the framework for EU research expenditure, the Social Democratic parliamentary group campaigned for a strong seven-year programme to safeguard research and development. During consultations on the green paper for Horizon 2020, the European Parliament was clearly in favour of a significant increase in funding for this European growth programme. The Social Democratic parliamentary group remains committed to this demand (€ 100 billion for the research budget), but the Council showed little in the way of compromise during the negotiations for Horizon 2020, with the result that the programme was only funded with around € 70 billion (2011 figures). The framework for European research funding has thus been defined for the next seven years in the context of the Multiannual Financial Framework. We are committed to ensuring that the debates that will take place in 2016 concerning a revision of the current multiannual financial framework are linked to the objective of financially strengthening measures for innovation, and acquiring the necessary majority in the European Parliament.
2) Recognise expenditure on education and research as investment
Expenditure on education and research is an investment in the future of Europe. In our opinion, no cuts should be made in this area during the crisis in Europe to reduce the national deficits of the European member states. Do you support the position of the three Rectors' Conferences and recognise that expenditure on research and education is an investment? Should a mandatory minimum quota be introduced for investment in research, education and innovation to supplement the specified upper limit of national debt at 3% of GDP in order to ensure the future competitiveness and sustainability of Europe, even at times of crisis?
The AfD will work towards ensuring that, at very least, the equivalent of 3% of gross domestic product is committed as quickly as possible to research and development by the state and business, although this should not lead to an increase in debt limits. One of the key lapses since the introduction of the euro has been the fact that the Maastricht criteria have not been adhered to certain countries, including Germany, citing 'specific circumstances'. This should not be allowed to happen again, not even for the essential fields of research, education and innovation, because it would not be long before other exceptional circumstances were being called for.
We GRÜNE also acknowledge that decisive steps need to be taken in several Member States of the EU towards consolidation of public budgets. However, these steps also need to be supplemented with targeted investment in the positive development of the societies, the innovative strength of the Member States and in the qualification of people in order to help the crisis states achieve a higher degree of competitiveness and social cohesion. Investing in education and research thereby plays a decisive role and should be appreciated as such. The GRÜNE are therefore committed to the 3% goal as a mandatory target, which should be given just as much significance as the debt ceiling. That means that an infringement of the targets might also have consequences.
More importance should be attributed to the 3% goal than has been the case to date. We are critical that this target still has not been reached although it represents a key element of the Lisbon Strategy dating back to 2000. Public funds should therefore be deployed to a greater extent than previously in order to mobilise private investment over a broad range of fields, although the targets should be viewed as minimum figures. In countries that are economically and financially on a solid footing, the GRÜNE call for an investment rate exceeding the 3% agreement; for example, a minimum of 3.5% of GDP in Germany until 2020.
A stable euro, robust budgets and debt limitation, on the one hand, and increased expenditure for education and research, on the other, are indispensable prerequisites for the future viability of Europe. They are the two pillars for competitiveness, long-term growth opportunities and safeguarding our prosperity and quality of life. Both need to be achieved simultaneously and in all Member States of the EU.
This means that we need to prioritise education and research in the EU and its Member States without jeopardising budget stability, because, without robust budgets and limiting the Member States' total debt, investment in education and research cannot rest on a solid foundation. It cannot be in the interest of education and research to create debt by degrading deficit limits.
Germany is showing the way with its correct and sustainable policy. Since the CDU has headed up the federal government, total expenditure in the federal budget has been strictly limited with a simultaneous increase in expenditure for education and research. That is why we have become one of the leading nations for innovation in Europe. We now invest three percent of our gross domestic product in research, thereby meeting the goal agreed upon for Europe. The "Europe 2020" strategy passed by the Member States in 2010 also defines how we can achieve the target of 40 percent of young Europeans achieving a higher education qualification by 2020. All Member States need to achieve this goal in the medium term.
In political terms, education and research are clearly investments for the CDU, but we regard a budget-related alteration of the term investment to be more problematical. It appears incomprehensible, for example, that some salaries paid in the public sector, namely for those employed as educators, are viewed as investments, while other salaries are regarded as consumption expenditure.
In a general sense, education and research represent self-explanatory investments in our future. However, it does not seem appropriate to designate this expenditure as investment in a budgetary sense. One example of this is salaries. It is difficult to explain why teachers' salaries are designated as investments, while other salaries are viewed as consumption expenditure.
It is necessary that the countries in the Eurozone systematically practise budgetary discipline to overcome the financial crisis in Europe. Europe simultaneously needs to be kept on a course of growth to ensure the future viability of Europe. The EU achieves this by investing in education and research, among other things. The result is that only the synergy of a balanced budget and debt avoidance combined with further investment in education and research can guarantee competitiveness, sustained growth and prosperity in the EU.
Germany plays an exemplary role here. The 3% goal for research and development (3% of GDP) originating from the European Union's Lisbon Strategy should help to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge-based economic region in the world. It was confirmed two years ago by the Member States of the EU as an objective in the new Europe 2020 Strategy and has already been met by Germany. Further objectives in education at EU level include a reduction to less than 10 percent in the number of educational drop-outs and an increase to at least 40 percent of the number of 30-34-year olds with a higher education or comparable educational qualification by 2020.
The Liberals are committed to ensuring that the cost of education, advanced training and research is treated as long-term investment.
We are also expressly campaigning to ensure that, as agreed in the EU 2020 Strategy, at least 3 % of GDP is assigned to research and development. However, we take a critical view at an exception for investments of the 3% upper deficit level agreed upon in the Stability and Growth Pact. This would remove the incentive for Member States to reduce unproductive expenditure and thus allow deficits and national debt to increase as a result. In the long term this would result in states having even less funds for investment in research and education due to the high interest burden. The Liberals are therefore in favour of Member States operating economically in the long term in the interests of future generations. This includes low national debt and the reduction of unproductive expenditure in favour of greater investment in research, education and innovation.
DIE LINKE party supports the call by the HRK to provide more money for education and research. Expenditure for education in many European nations, not only in Germany, lies considerably below the level of Scandinavian countries. There is a need for significantly higher expenditure for education and research to ensure the right of all people to education. There needs to be an end to the policies of the Troika, which have been and continue to be supported by the former and new German governments, which demand massive cuts in education and research as a quid pro quo for financial assistance. This in fact puts the future capacity of Europe at risk.
DIE LINKE clearly rejects to widen the scope of the term "investments" to the field of education and research. Teaching, learning and research should not be narrowed down to the goal of having to generate (monetary) profit. Free access to education is a human right. Research should also not be co-opted by third parties, especially not by interest groups, by narrowing its objectives and by its dependence on funding.
A widening of the term "investment" would also have no effect in the current circumstances. For one thing the cutbacks in education and research in the EU member states, , are due to the provisions of the Troika as mentioned earlier. For another thing, the fiscal contract and the respective national debt brakes apply additional pressure for cuts in funding. In Germany, what is known as the "debt brake", anchored in Article 109 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, provides for a complete ban on debt for the federal states from 2020 onwards. The federal states, as the main financiers of education, will thus be divested of any room to manoeuvre whatsoever in terms of their budgets.
The disastrous effects of the debt brake are becoming increasingly visible in the context of medium-term financial planning of the federal states: expenditure on education in many federal states will increase below the rate of inflation over the medium term, if it increases at all. The federal government and the municipalities will not be able to compensate for this "cold degression" of expenditure for education (similar to the cold progression when taxing income) due to their own budget deficits and lack of revenue.
For this reason, DIE LINKE, unfortunately the only party represented in the German Bundestag, has voted against the debt brake, the fiscal contract and taxation reductions for large fortunes and incomes. We need to retain the option of partially or completely financing investments, such as school buildings, scientific infrastructure and student residences, through new debt – as called for by the HRK. At the same time, however, this requires a considerable increase in the revenue basis of public budgets, as DIE LINKE is calling for in its taxation concept. Without these increases in taxation, it will not be possible to politically achieve a sustainable increase in expenditure for education and research to meet future needs.
This also applies to the call for a binding minimum quota for expenditure in education and research. This minimum quota would currently result in a movement of funds from other areas, which are also suffering under continuing cutbacks. DIE LINKE vociferously argues against an intensification of competition between individual public tasks.Iin the present situation and in regards to the university system only such minimum quotas should be supported , which oblige the individual federal states to act in accordance with their governmental responsibilities. For instance, just as many students are enrolled in public universities in Baden-Württemberg as in Bavaria. The responsibility of the federal states for university policies should not be abused by individuals to foist the expenditure needed for these policies onto others.
The estimates in the research sector are therefore not in accord with the original wishes of the Parliament, but we have nonetheless been successful in significantly increasing the budgetary estimates in the research sector. This is primarily due to our conviction that research can make a decisive contribution to achieving the Europe 2020 objectives. In order to create a "ladder to top-level research", special attention was paid to ensuring that synergies remain possible with the structural funds. On the one hand, existing regional capacities for research and innovation are reinforced, and, on the other hand, the capability of less productive and less developed regions of Europe is improved with the aim of developing clusters of excellence. The persuasive argument put forward during the budgetary consultations recently concluded, that education and research contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy makes clear that the overwhelming majority of educational and research expenditure is already viewed as investment in the future. For Social Democrats that is the case for both education and the closely related "Erasmus+" programme, as well as for expenditure in research, especially for the "Horizon 2020" programme, but also for major research projects, such as "Clean Sky".
One pillar of the Lisbon Process was to increase the share of expenditure for research and development in Europe to 3% of GDP by 2010. The Member States have not achieved this goal. And most probably it won’t be possible to meet the 3% targets formulated as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Although Germany almost achieved this nominal target, the EU average lies at around 1.9%. Nonetheless, the Social Democratic parliamentary group is committed to the 3% goal and will again dedicate itself to a achieving a strong research budget in the planned revision of the multiannual financial framework. We are convinced that intensified efforts are required to push forward the European Research Area and, based on this, an "Innovation Union" that serves to achieve the Europe 2020 targets over the medium and long term, and makes a significant contribution to overcoming the crisis. However, unanimity in the Council is required to ensure an increase in the budget at the time of revision. To create a good foundation for this, we should work harder to emphasise the visible and soon to be tangible successes of the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, in order to underline the necessity for adequate funding.
3) Role of universities as drivers of innovation
Universities are at the heart of the triangle formed by research, teaching and innovation – but the Commission perceives universities only as education institutions. How could universities – taking into account this role in society – in future be better represented in the political and organisational structures of the Commission?
In the AfD's view, educational policy, and thus also research and higher education policy, should primarily remain a national responsibility. The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany even entrusts this policy area expressly to the federal states. We therefore view rather sceptically the institutionalisation of the role of universities within the Commission's constitution, as experience has shown that this leads to centralisation and greater bureaucracy. In the AfD's view, universities do not have to figure at Commission level to improve networking and cooperation between European universities. First and foremost, we should be concerned with improving the coordination of universities in Germany and, within this context, eliminating the deficiencies caused by the Bologna Process.
The diverse character of Europe as a centre of teaching, research and innovation is one of its outstanding features, as is the exceptional quality of its universities. The EU Commission should also acknowledge this accordingly. This means that all relevant Directorates-General of the EU Commission should see themselves as partners of the universities and should work together to coordinate relevant decision-making processes from the start. This applies to the DG Education and Culture, as well as to the DG Research and Innovation. The GRÜNE have repeatedly called for closer cooperation between these two Directorates-General in the past. We have therefore called for both of the DGs named, as well as the DG Enterprise and Industry, to be represented on the Advisory Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology in order to enable improved coordination of the individual sub-areas.
Today the universities are involved in the Bologna Process, the EU modernisation programme for universities and the creation of the European Research Area. At the same time, the main responsibility for implementation of the reforms in the scientific triangle comprising research, teaching and innovation lies with the Member States. This means that the actual interests of the scientific and research community are represented by the federal government and federal states in Germany. This has been regulated accordingly by the acts accompanying the Lisbon Agreement and the Bundesrat process.
Nonetheless, organisations representing scientists and researchers are also involved in the organisation of the European Research Area, within the scope of their responsibility. The process of "Structured Dialogue" thus presents one option for driving forward integrated ERA policy development together with the Commission. Joint representation of German scientific organisations in Brussels could also enhance their external image. We should examine whether the "European Liaison Office of the German Research Organisations" (KoWi) is able to take on this task with the Commission.
In addition, the organisations representing the scientific and research community should make use of the dialogue forums (for example the Europe working group of the Joint Science Conference (GWK) or the European policy discussion group of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to proactively incorporate the interests of science at a European level at an early stage.
The Member States essentially have the expertise in the university sector. The reforms in the scientific triangle comprising research, teaching and innovation are therefore implemented at a national level. Regardless of this, scientific associations and organisations also have opportunities to apply their expertise at a European level. Thus, the Bologna Process, in which 47 states and the EU Commission, as well as eight other organisations in the university sector are involved, is directed at cooperative partnership: its focus is on the integration of universities, students and social partners. It has initiated major dynamism in the university landscape throughout Europe, and had far-reaching effects on the national university systems. Developments in the European Research Area can be pushed forward with concerted action in institutions, like the "Structured Dialogue". Scientific organisations can also get involved in the dialogue forums established by the federal and state governments, such as the Europe working group of the Joint Science Conference (GWK) or the European policy discussion group of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
In fact, the transforming role of the universities, which extends far beyond teaching, needs to be better reflected in the organisational structures of EU institutions and in the political decision-making processes. The Directorates-General for Industry, Research and Regional Development should cooperate more closely in order to achieve synergy effects. Joint working groups or task forces at operational level and at the Commissioners' political level might be conceivable. There are already teams of Commissioners within the Commission in other areas, for example in all political areas that deal with external matters. Similar approaches with innovation might be a way of coping with the diverse work of modern universities. This could result in improved recognition of the role of universities, for example in local and regional development in partnership with other stakeholders.
DIE LINKE does not regard the universities as being at the very core of the knowledge triangle mentioned above. Their role should primarily be defined by research, teaching and promotion of young scientific talent. As such, from our perspective, they are correctly classified within the field of education.
Research, as a whole, by contract is incorrectly classified. The link with innovation, implemented by the EU Commission, is intended to emphasise the closeness of content and structure of these two fields, which simply does not exist. Innovation is defined as the introduction and implementation of a new product, a new service, a new production technology etc. onto the market. This involves an economic process, which generally does not form part of or the objective of the research process. Linking both processes, in the sense that the research process is viewed as a supplier for the innovation process, as it were acting in pre-emptive obedience, is, in our view, counter-productive, and we reject it.
For this reason we do not regard universities as drivers of innovation, because the innovation process, from the development of a market-ready product to the planning and successful introduction of it onto the market, should be the responsibility of companies. Universities are not directly, rather only indirectly involved in this process (possibly because companies develop products based on knowledge they have generated or issue research commissions to them).
As a result there needs to be greater involvement on the part of universities in the organisation and implementation of the European Research Area, as well as in the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, than was previously the case. Universities, as institutions charged with the generation of new knowledge, should play a decisive role in these processes.
The European Commissions' development programmes relevant for research and innovation are combined in a "Horizon 2020" framework programme that provides funding specifically for three areas, namely
- Basic research,
- Application-orientated research and development, and
- Applications and market development in competitive processes.
Simplified regulations and procedures for application should apply particularly to universities. These three funding areas assume that universities can take on the role of drivers of innovation. At a European level, universities are viewed as institutions in the research sector, just as they are viewed as institutions of undisputed importance in the education sector, through Erasmus+ and other EU-wide initiatives. In terms of education, the EU is more reserved due to its merely subsidiary role, but at the same time, Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 offer possibilities for developing teaching-related networks in education and in research through universities, so that institutionalisation is at least indirectly assured here. Taking into account the fact that, from a German perspective, European university policy is subsidiary in a dual sense, as it is primarily the responsibility of the federal states, universities are quite well-established in European matters. It goes without saying that the repeal of the cooperation at a federal level would also have a positive effect on the position of the universities at a European level. We are experiencing an internationalisation of education as a whole, especially with regard to universities, and have to actively work to dismantle existing barriers to improve European cooperation in the university sector. From the viewpoint of the Social Democrats, education has long been a European task - this has been proved time and time again with every new OECD test.
4) Structure of the European Research Area
The European Council is calling for the "achievement" of the European Research Area (ERA). How do you define the European Research Area and how should the process leading to its achievement proceed after the elections to the European Parliament?
As already stated, the AfD has a sceptical, if not hostile, view of centralising tendencies. Research should predominantly remain a national responsibility, a situation that does not necessarily preclude coordination. Centralised provision of targets has not added any value in other fields, taking the Bologna Process as a good example. EU coordination to achieve more effective universities contradicts the principle of subsidiarity and does not lead to a pluralistic higher education landscape to promote the best competitive ideas, but rather weakens it.
We GRÜNE support the call for completion of the European Research Area. From the perspective of us GRÜNE, cooperation beyond national boundaries, the strengthening of transnational research networks, full exchange between research and science institutions in the various EU states and the exchange of best practice examples, are of crucial importance. The comprehensive freedom of movement of researchers and students is also an imperative. Continued integration would mean improved research results and the more efficient deployment of grants. We therefore now call for the decade-long discussions about the European Research Area to be followed up with intensive efforts. The EU still suffers in the field of research from fragmentation and a lack of cooperation. The freedom of movement of researchers is hindered by contradictory national regulations or unnecessary administrative complexity. The mutual recognition of degrees, difficulties transferring scholarships abroad or uncertainty with regard to the acceptance of pension claims acquired abroad within the EU, still present considerable obstacles in the everyday routine of scientists, which influence their decision to work abroad within the EU. These obstacles need to be dismantled.
The completion of the European Research Area, as we GRÜNE understand it, means exchange, cooperation and integration, but not standardisation or complete assimilation. National models of success need to be able to continue to thrive within a European Research Area. It is particularly with regard to this diversity that we GRÜNE see considerable potential for successful European research and competitiveness compared with competing global research areas. Success stories in individual member states should not be jeopardised by an exaggerated standardisation.
The CDU has defined its proposals on the continuing development of the European Research Area in its coalition agreement for the 18th legislative period (2013-2017): "We accept our responsibility for completing the European Research Area (ERA) and will systematically implement our ERA strategy at a national and European level. To this end, we wish to improve the conditions for mobility of researchers, continue developing joint programme planning, establish joint research infrastructures, simplify knowledge transfer, promote gender equality in the European scientific system and expand cooperation with nations outside of Europe.
We remain convinced that a strategy adapted to the various requirements of the national systems is necessary for each Member State to configure the European Research Area; harmonising legislative initiatives by the European Commission are not beneficial for the diversity of the research systems in Europe, which promote competition, and thus science and innovation.
We wish to support and extend the involvement of the German scientific and business community in the new "Horizon 2020" Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. At the same time, the German scientific community needs to play an active role in order to reinforce the European scientific and innovation system as a whole. In the process we also place our trust in bilateral innovation consultation and joint research and development projects with the new Member States of Eastern and Southern Europe, and especially with those EU Member States affected by the economic crisis."
The CDU is also committed to these political goals in its manifesto for the European election; they represent the guidelines for the continued organisation of the European Research Area.
We have presented our proposals for the European Research Area together with the CDU and SPD in the coalition agreement for the 18th legislative period. This is in keeping with the objectives we wish to achieve at a European level, especially where this means real added value for Europe:
"We accept our responsibility for completing the European Research Area (ERA) and will systematically implement our ERA strategy at a national and European level. To this end we wish to improve the conditions for mobility of researchers, continue developing joint programme planning, establish joint research infrastructures, simplify knowledge transfer, promote gender equality in the European scientific system and expand cooperation with nations outside of Europe.
We remain convinced that a strategy adapted to the various requirements of the national systems is necessary for each Member State to configure the European Research Area; harmonising legislative initiatives by the European Commission are not beneficial for the diversity of the research systems in Europe, which promote competition, and thus science and innovation.
We wish to support and extend the involvement of the German scientific and business community in the new "Horizon 2020" Framework Programme for Innvoation and Research. At the same time, the German scientific community needs to play an active role in order to reinforce the European scientific and innovation system as a whole. In the process we also place our trust in bilateral innovation consultation and joint research and development projects with the new Member States of Eastern and Southern Europe, and especially with those EU Member States affected by the economic crisis."
The initiative to develop a European Research Area (ERA) is aimed at improving the networking of research capacities in Europe. Improved coordination of national efforts in research policy and thus more efficient utilisation of research resources should make the ERA more competitive globally, thus contributing to growth and creating jobs. In addition, common strategies are indispensable against the background of the major social challenges Europe will face in coming years and decades. We have to continue along this path and build on past partial goals, especially with regard to the reform of the national research systems, more efficient exchange of information, the promotion of research talent and its mobility, as well as the transfer of knowledge between research and development. It is important that all stakeholders involved agree upon a common roadmap, so that the development of the ERA can be monitored and improvements of the targets and measures undertaken where necessary. EU legislation should thus be viewed as only a last resort in this regard. The diversity of the national research systems should be respected in all these efforts, as these are also ultimately one of Europe's strengths.
In the view of DIE LINKE, the European Research Area is defined by the permeability and cooperation between the individual research areas. DIE LINKE advocates mobility and diversity, as well as social and regional balance in the European research landscape. That is why we reject centralised control at a European level, for instance by the specification of uniform content-based alignment of all research institutions in Europe, especially including universities.
DIE LINKE defines seven basic pillars for a European Research Area:
1.) The current crisis shows that there are pan-European questions that can no longer be solved by individual states. These include, for example, climate change and socio-ecological restructuring. Therefore, one element of the European Research Area consists of supporting cooperative ventures and networks between research institutions and, where necessary, also creating new European research institutions in order to deal with these problems.
2.) The diversity of Europe has resulted in an autonomous research and knowledge culture in all states. This has led to a large number of different research approaches and methods, as well as forms of organisation in research. An exchange between these cultures has the potential of further developing the existing methods of conducting research. This is made possible in particular by the mobility of researchers who temporarily or permanently travel abroad within Europe for the purpose of scientific qualification and/or periods of research.
3.) A free and fruitfull exchange of ideas and knowledge can only take place if they are sufficiently accessible within the European Research Area. A European Research Area requires therefore not only the mobility of researchers, but also the mobility of the knowledge they generate. The strict copyright law in Europe and the increasing pressure on research institutions in Europe to generate profits from the knowledge they generate excludes many researchers from access to and the continuing development of these findings.
4.) The varied regional development in Europe means that disadvantaged regions require assistance to be able to participate in the European Research Area. They simply do not have the financial means to build and equip research institutions and pay personnel. Because of that support measures should not only concentrate on the mentioned pillars.. Also a funding of research institutions or individual research projects is needed. Only by doing so will it be possible to maintain individual research and knowledge cultures and establish a research area that includes all regions of Europe.
5.) Another basic pillar of a European Research Area needs to be the establishment of gender equality. Structural discrimination of female scientists or of women who wish to pursue a career in science does not only have an adverse effect on the development of Europe. A research system that excludes a large part of the population of Europe cannot be considered as European.
6.) The current Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development are significantly shaped by retrogressive and counter-productive elements. Firstly, they are too closely linked to the interests of industry, and thus do not deal with future-orientated projects, like socio-ecological reconstruction. Many of the major research projects currently under way will never be able to make the contribution they were intended to make. For example, research into nuclear energy and the ITER fusion reactor is completely superfluous; as is weapons research and the development of new surveillance technologies that make no contribution whatsoever to the development of society.
7.) Scientists are at the centre of the European Research Area. They need good working conditions in order to be able to carry out their work which needs to be one of the goals of the European Research Area.
After the European election, DIE LINKE will dedicate itself to further expanding the following basic pillars:
- We wish to create an environment for scientists in which there are standardised basic conditions, for example relating to social insurance and pension provision, to encourage their mobility. In addition, we will work towards achieving a binding formulation of the European Charter for Researchers so that it promotes good scientific work. We also wish to switch from a system based on grants to real jobs which are subject to social insurance contribution, in order to promote early career researchers and scientists.
- In order to promote gender equality we wish to promote clear funding criteria and gender-neutral working conditions in Europe's research institutions.
- The accession states should receive a minimum of ten percent of research funding from the Horizon 2020 framework programme.
- We wish to initiate a concerted open access initiative and a more science-friendly organisation of copyright law. In addition, we wish to expand knowledge transfer in poorer regions within and outside of Europe.
- We want to align research funding in the EU to future challenges in society. The socio-ecological transformation and reorganisation of energy generation and supply should become a focal point of the Framework Programme for Innovation and Research. Social sciences, the humanities and cultural sciences should be better integrated than they have been in the past.
The completion of the European Research Area is a European Union goal anchored in primary legislation, Art. 179 Section 1 of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union (AEUV). Research should not be based on geopolitical factors. Regional boundaries and the associated fragmentation of the research institutions operating in the far-flung corners of Europe would make it more difficult for Europe to remain at the uppermost level of international competition, if not entirely impossible. In the future it will be of key importance that Member States pursue a coherent policy that ensures the greatest possible mobility of students, teachers and researchers.
To this end it is essential that we continue along the path embarked upon by the Ljubljana Process in 2008. Increased attention should be paid to ensuring that individual elements interlock more effectively in chains of innovation and that both companies and industry are once again more actively integrated into research projects. It needs to be more readily possible for combined research to involve small and medium-sized companies in projects without excessive red tape. We have set the course with Horizon 2020, reinforced the SME instrument and simplified the funding rules to this end. The call for stabilisation of the European Research Council has been addressed, so that it will continue to play an exceptionally important role in research excellence.
The Social Democrats still see room for improvement in the employment conditions for scientists in the European Research Area. In a global comparison Europe is not necessarily one of the most attractive destinations for top international researchers. We must actively work to combat the so-called brain drain, a migration of particularly well-educated and talented minds. Existing instruments for research funding need to be expanded, such as the system of "Return Grants", which should ensure the return of researchers to regions with less developed innovation structures. In addition to this, we should pay special attention to ensuring that structurally weak regions can catch up with those regions of Europe with a good research infrastructure in the coming legislative period. The Social Democrats have already created an instrument for adequately addressing this task, with an instrument that should lead to a spreading of excellence and increase participation in the programme. Our goal is to promote excellence in all regions and combat the migration of high-achievers from regions that perform less well.
The promotion of women in the field of research and innovation is an aspect that needs to be improved. An article addressing gender equality has been introduced into the Regulation on the Horizon 2020 Programme to ensure effective promotion of gender equality and the gender dimension with reference to the content of research and innovation. In practical terms, however, gender equality should not only be ensured in the active research sector, but also with regard to the appraisal of research projects. However, even after establishing the new programmes, the advancement of women is still insufficiently considered particularly with regard to the issue of combining family and career. There continues to be a need for an improvement of the tools for the advancement of women.
Finally, "EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion" needs to be better established as a central information and consultation portal for mobile researchers.
5) Minimum standards of higher education autonomy
Should the universities enjoy a minimum level of autonomy in the European Higher Education Area and European Research Area and what might this minimum level look like?
As research and higher education policy should remain a national responsibility and be adapted to local traditions and needs, in the AfD's view, there is no need to define minimum standards relating to the autonomy of higher education institutions within a European context.
We GRÜNE are committed to strong and autonomous universities as places of academic education and training, as well as of scientific excellence, but also as a stronghold of critical research with a strong and independent socio-political role to play. From a green perspective, university autonomy is linked to the freedom of science, but also to the commitment of universities to participatory decision-making processes, openness to society, gender equality, diversity and transparency.
We want to promote university autonomy with extensive freedoms in relation to research, financial and personnel planning policies in all Member States of the EU. However, this has to take place on the basis of the division of competencies between the EU, Member States and federal states, assigning only limited powers to the European level. Wherever the EU has opportunities to act, it should also use them in the above sense. This applies both internally and with regard to the relationships of the EU with its partner and neighbouring states. The GRÜNE have registered with concern the attempts of the Turkish government to inhibit scientific freedom and to exert influence on the affairs of Turkish universities, an action that clearly violates their autonomy. For this reason, we call for reforms ensuring the autonomy of Turkish universities in the context of accession negotiations with Turkey.
The CDU remains convinced that the organisation of the European Higher Education and Research Area cannot be dictated from above. Instead, it must be adapted to the differing circumstances within the national systems.
Harmonising legislative initiatives by the EU Commission are thus regarded as being counter-productive by the CDU.
However, this should not stop universities from agreeing on minimum standards for university autonomy, for example, within the context of the European University Association (EUA), or from anchoring these in the Member States via the intergovernmental Bologna Process, which aims to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
As already mentioned under point three, the competencies of the universities, and thus the implementation of the reforms in the scientific triangle between research, teaching and innovation, lie with the federal government, and especially with the regional administrations of the Member States, with the result that we do not call for mandatory minimum standards by the EU. We continue to be of the opinion that the organisation of the research and university environment needs to be adapted to the respective national conditions and systems and should not be imposed from above. Art. 6 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (AEUV) regulates this and states that, in the event of supporting responsibility, the EU measures can support, coordinate or supplement, but cannot themselves exercise a legislative function.
Nonetheless, we welcome it when universities cooperate and, for example, agree on minimum standards for university autonomy within the framework of the European University Association and anchor these in the individual Member States by way of the Bologna Process, which works toward creating a European Higher Education Area.
The university landscape in the EU is highly diverse, which creates challenges with regard to the recognition of educational results mentioned above, but also ensures healthy competition amongst the universities, their various formats, educational programmes and areas of focus. The FDP is clearly committed to university autonomy. Common standards can create the framework conditions, but should not endanger the organic culture of universities in the different member states. It is more important to ensure mobility for the people meant to benefit from a common European Higher Education and Research Area. Standards should thus concentrate on the recognition of educational results and qualifications.
Yes, DIE LINKE is in favour of strong standards for university autonomy. First, there needs to be comprehensive co-determination of all status groups (students, scientific and technical-administrative staff, as well as professors) in the universities. This includes, for example, the transfer of central decision-making powers, such as budgetary powers, structural and development planning, as well as the election of universities' and faculties' management staff to equally represented bodies, the members of which are chosen by the respective status groups in democratic elections at least every two years.
Secondly, universities and their members should not be subordinated to external control, for example, by the ministries of science or major third-party funders in the form of specific incentive schemes or dependence on third-party funding. These external restrictions make any kind of co-determination within the university a farce According to Article 5 of the German Constitution, research and teaching are free – this must also apply to researchers, teachers and students. The students of a university should be incorporated in a constituted student body with a general political mandate.
Autonomy is the key for universities to develop a healthy base in a globalised market. Politicians can best support universities, as well as other areas of society, such as science or business, by providing them with the widest possible freedom in the development of their own strengths. Enabling universities to stand out from other universities and develop a differentiated profile requires the installation of a high level autonomous management , while keeping in mind the public service remit of universities. The objectives and concepts of the teaching and research agenda should not be determined by third parties. To this extent, autonomy should be understood as being comprehensive and should always have the independence of education, research and teaching as its goal.
A clearly defined minimum level of autonomy applicable throughout the EU is difficult to define, let alone establish. We therefore advocate a subsidiary approach, not least in order to ensure the diversity of the university landscape.
6) Mobility in the European Higher Education Area and encouraging a spirit of community in Europe
The structures for the European Higher Education Area are in place, but they still need to be refined. What can be done to facilitate even greater mobility of students and graduates within Europe? How can Europe help universities to continue to foster a spirit of community and European citizenship in the younger generation, particularly in times of crisis such as we are currently experiencing?
We should further expand the ERASMUS programme for education, training, culture and sport. The AfD therefore supports efforts to financially and organisationally promote European exchanges between youth associations and groups. The mobility of students, trainees and young employees needs to be encouraged within the EU to maximise their personal and professional opportunities for development. This should also involve young people without a good secondary education. Apart from supporting exchange programmes and, where appropriate, providing greater support for language courses at universities, we should refrain from attempting to promote a European public spirit and sense of community from the top down. This is not because this kind of public spirit or sense of community would be harmful, but rather because history has shown that any sense of community that is to be lasting and supported with conviction, is best left to develop organically. Centralised programmes would not be expedient here.
Erasmus is one of the great success stories of the EU and is a programme with enormous positive charisma. Especially in the current crisis, the programme makes it possible to establish social networks that extend beyond borders, to dismantle prejudices and promote a European identity. However, the success story can only be continued when adequate funding is guaranteed. A rather reserved resolution was passed against the votes of us Greens in the field of education, research and development in the context of the multiannual financial framework, which falls far short of the Commission's proposal with regard to the financing of Erasmus. It is therefore all the more important that there is clear prioritisation of the Erasmus+ programme during the annual budget negotiations. The number of Erasmus scholarships should therefore be further increased. Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences should be supported in accepting and integrating foreign students and researchers, as well as employees of the universities, in order to ensure a successful exchange. We GRÜNE consider that the Member States have a duty to more systematically fulfil their payment agreements in order to prevent payment bottlenecks, like those of past years. In addition to the financial support for exchanges, we GRÜNE campaign for increased promotion of foreign language skills in the various educational paths, as they represent the key to a common European educational area. Basic Green demands also include the comprehensive mutual recognition of degrees and credits, as provided for by the Bologna Process and the Europass diploma supplement, but also a university culture that recognises foreign programmes of study and encourages them.
The CDU supports the mobility of students: for one thing, stays abroad should help them to acquire the abilities they require for a knowledge-based job. Furthermore, by doing so we wish to reinforce students' intercultural skills and promote the formation of a sense of European citizenship. For this reason, the CDU is committed to ensuring that at least 50 percent of university graduates have spent a part of their degree course abroad prior to 2020. The new EU Erasmus+ programme also makes an important contribution: it makes it possible for two million interested candidates to study or continue their training abroad, and the programme also contains a guarantee instrument for student loans. With the help of this instrument, Master students can finance their entire degree abroad.
The CDU will also campaign for more joint degree courses between German universities and European partner universities. We want to increase the number of these study programmes from the present five to ten percent by 2020. This also includes providing for dual degrees as standard degrees. In addition, we will also endeavour to include compulsory mobility windows in the framework teaching plans of the individual degree courses. At the same time, we wish to obtain improved recognition of study and test performances achieved abroad. We aim to establish a quality seal for particularly exemplary institutions in order to ease students' decisions in favour of a university abroad.
The freedom of movement of researchers is an integral component of the ERA and presumes an open and attractive labour market. It remains the goal of the CDU to continue improving mobility conditions for researchers. In this respect, Germany is heading in the right direction: the international specification of temporary and permanent positions is mandatory here and the Freedom of Science Act has been in effect since December 2012.
The CSU campaigns for the international exchange of experiences between students, teachers and especially of scientific early career researchers. International experience is a key qualification in this era of the global scientific community.
In the coalition agreement we have also set ourselves the target, together with our partners, of achieving a new quality of international scientific cooperation and further developing a strategy of internationalisation. In the process, we shall reach agreement with the German scientific and research organisations concerning increased networking of their activities for greater internationalisation and support them in doing so. Today, Germany is the third most important guest nation for foreign students, after the USA and the UK. Before the end of the decade, we wish to ensure that the number of foreign students increases by around one third to approx. 350,000. In terms of the mobility of German students, we wish to expand this in a targeted fashion. Every second graduate should be able to gather study-related experience abroad. The key driving forces behind the issue of mobility at universities and research institutions are the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Erasmus support programme. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the world's largest support organisation for the international exchange of students and scientists. The ERASMUS support programme is the EU's best-known educational programme and has been sponsoring foreign stays for students for 25 years. The freedom of movement of our researchers is a further component of the ERA. For instance, we are working with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to further international exchanges, promoting scientific cooperation between excellent foreign and German researchers. The international specification of temporary and permanent positions is also mandatory in Germany. Internationalisation can now be implemented even more successfully since the enactment of the Freedom of Science Act in December 2012. The improved measures relating to decision-making about personnel, in particular, are helping to attract or keep highly qualified researchers.
Mobility among Europe's employees is still very low, at only 3 percent. Mobility has increased among students, thanks to exchange programmes like Erasmus, but this has not yet had a long-term effect on the mobility of older people. However, the FDP is campaigning for intensified exchange of students, young scientists and educators as well as for the support of new talent in the skilled personnel and management sectors to be able to compensate for the regional lack of skilled workers, encourage the exchange of knowledge and increase the competitiveness of the EU in general. Existing obstacles need to be urgently tackled to this end, including the absence of financing options, problems with recognising educational results, lack of language skills, as well as simply a lack of information about exchange opportunities. The FDP is therefore dedicating itself to ensuring improved transferability of subsidies, loans and granted scholarships. It is essential that the transferability of funds between universities is guaranteed. The recognition of educational results still leaves a lot to be desired and discourages students from embarking upon an exchange or causes them unnecessary problems at the end. Comparability of educational results through processes like Bologna needs to be pushed forward and bureaucratic obstacles standing in the way of mutual recognition need to be dismantled. The teaching of foreign languages should be reinforced in schools to minimise language obstacles. Vocational training should be integrated more strongly into exchange activities. Universities should offer more foreign language teaching with a view to increasing the internationalisation of their courses.
According to recent studies, the mobility of students is affected by two major factors: first, the social dimension, meaning that students do not possess adequate funds or financial resources in order to finance studies abroad. Secondly, the excessive interlinking of courses and the excessive pressure built by high performance requirements in a limited time represent obstacles to students' mobility.
A reform of the German Federal Law on Support in Education (BAföG), which includes the abolishment of the loan portion and an increase of both the student grant (BAföG) rates and the tax-exempt proportions of at least ten percent can reduce the financial obstacles to a period of study abroad. DIE LINKE has already introduced a relevant motion to this end in the current legislative period (Paper 18/479). Over the long term, the BAföG should be transformed into a model that covers needs and is available to students independently of their parents. This would then fully do away with this obstacle.
We advocate a complete redesign of degree courses in order to reduce this considerable interlinking and the pressure on performance and time during the degree course. Degree courses have become increasingly "school-like" with the introduction of Bachelor and Master Degrees. There is hardly any time for self-determined learning; instead, classes are designed to take place over several semesters, so that a stay abroad can result in an enormous lengthening of the degree course. DIE LINKE is committed to a significant reduction of testing and the related learning effort. At the same time, students should be offered more freedom of choice than previously in their degrees, with lectures held at regular intervals without excessive interlinking. This would allow students the flexibility they need for study abroad.
The recognition of degrees is a decisive factor for the mobility of graduates. At the same time, degrees acquired abroad are viewed unfavourably in Germany and are often viewed as inferior to German degrees. Obvious chauvinistic trends are also apparent in the German labour market. As long as this negative connotation persists in Germany, obstacles to the mobility of graduates will continue to persist.
Countering these tendencies would be an important step in assisting universities to promote a European community spirit. Especially in the current crisis, scientists should distance themselves from the rhetoric that talks of "begging Greeks" and "lazy Mediterranean types" and highlight the origins of the crisis through critical research. At the same time, the universities, assisted by an appropriate staffing and a reform of their organisational, decision-making and work structures, should create the basis for giving room to alternative life plans in the scientific system. These role models counter crude chauvinistic prejudices and enable, above all, the young generation to get rid of their prejudices.
The Bologna Process has had a positive effect on the creation of a common higher education area in Europe. The recently introduced Bachelor and Masters degree courses are enjoying greater acceptance and problems comparing university degrees are diminuishing. We support this in principle, but the Bologna reform must not be taken as an excuse to implement processes aimed at rationalisation and cutbacks. The European Higher Education Area should be characterised by equality of opportunity, provide students with a free choice of their place of study and offer them options to study abroad integrated in their degree courses, regardless of their financial situation or country of origin.
This mobility should be supported from a European perspective with the redesign of the Erasmus+ programme at the start of 2014. The programme is an important building block in the European development process with a high level of international relevance. The budget increases planned for this successful programme and the proposed introduction of the Erasmus mobility programme for Masters degrees are emphatically welcomed. In addition to the states participating in the programme (EU Member States, EFTA, as well as Turkey and Macedonia), we must intensify the expansion of communication and cooperation with non-EU countries. As there continue to be differences between Western and Central and Eastern European institutions of higher education, we view the integration of additional institutions as being absolutely necessary in order to promote their development and assist them with modernisation. Our goal is the continued dismantling of inequalities, for instance by the use of an instrument intended precisely for this purpose.
There needs to be greater emphasis in "conventional" teaching processes on increasing the perception among young people that it is worthwhile gathering significant experience abroad. It should be possible to integrate a period of study abroad with ease into every individual study pathway so that it is not perceived as a disadvantage for their personal future. We do not want people to "lose" a year. This perception still exists too often among students and is not always unfounded. It may be necessary to evaluate Bachelor and Master study programmes with a view to offering better opportunities for personal development, and thus to allow students greater autonomy.
7) Collaborating on education with non-European countries
The EU has repeatedly emphasised the need to intensify collaboration with universities in third countries. However, the funding provided for this purpose in Erasmus+ is very limited. What should Europe do in future to make European universities more attractive throughout the world (for students, universities and companies) and to further develop collaborative partnerships with non-European countries?
Apart from excellent facilities, we need to promote competitiveness between European universities to reinforce their attractiveness. We should not therefore aspire to centralising and standardising research and higher education policy, because universities that cannot compete within the EU will have even greater difficulty competing for the best minds and successful cooperative partnerships with companies worldwide. Universities also need the targeted support of advanced research / teaching to become more attractive to non-European students, companies and universities and motivate them to cooperate more closely with European universities.
The continuing opening-up of European universities is an important goal, which we GRÜNE support and have supported in the context of the negotiations surrounding the Erasmus+ programme, which encompasses the previous Erasmus Mundus programme. We GRÜNE are convinced that the strengthened international networking of our European Higher Education and Research Area can have a considerable positive effect on education, research and innovation in Europe, as well as in the participating partner countries. In order to utilise this potential, the corresponding prerequisites need to be established both in the EU and in the partner states. Internationalisation will only be successful when European universities become attractive centres for work, research and teaching. Universities should be made capable of integrating foreign students, scientists and teaching staff into university operations, not only in terms of the working language and curricula, but also with regard to financing. Initiatives need to be pursued to ensure that even smaller universities with a less developed international network can participate in internationalisation. We advocate a solid exchange with structurally weaker partner countries to prevent internationalisation resulting in a one-sided emigration of qualified young people. We GRÜNE want scholarship systems that enable broad-based participation and ensure social balance in the selection of scholarship holders.
At their conference in Bucharest in April 2012 for the EHEA, the Bologna countries passed the strategy entitled "Mobility for better learning 2020" as an integral component of their efforts aimed at promoting the internationalisation of university education. The EU Commission, in its "European university education in the world" memorandum of 11 June 2013, also presented a new internationalisation strategy. The Council welcomed the Commission's undertaking at the end of November 2013. In this respect, it asked the Member States, potentially with the universities, taking their autonomy into account, to push forward an internationalisation of their degree courses and of digital learning. In addition to intensified international cooperation of the university institutions, the EU Commission also wants to ensure that the conditions for entry and residence of citizens of third countries for the purposes of research and study are improved.
Financial incentives should ease the decision of the Member States and the universities to implement strategic internationalisation concepts: the new Erasmus+ programme promotes the mobility of students, while the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, within the "Horizon 2020" programme, promote the mobility of researchers from the EU to third countries and vice versa.
In order to increase the attractiveness of European universities worldwide, the EU introduced a new internationalisation strategy, and the Bologna nations are also working towards the internationalisation of university education with their "Mobility for better learning 2020" strategy. The Member States are thus called upon to drive forward the internationalisation of degree courses, keeping aspects of federalism in mind. In the process, the conditions for entry and residence should also be improved for students of non-EU countries for research and study purposes.
The Member States are, in turn, supported by the "Horizon 2020" programme, which offers Member States financial incentives. The Erasmus programme (see also point 5) promotes the mobility of students, while the Marie Curie actions organise scholarships for the employment of scientists from non-EU countries in Europe (IIF) or vice versa. Researchers receive financial aid irrespective of their age, gender or nationality.
The European university landscape still suffers, often unjustly, from an image problem, when compared internationally. Only very few European universities find their way onto international university ranking lists. Due to increasing criticism of the one-sided focus of these ranking lists on research, the FDP welcomes the introduction of a European university ranking system, which would allow for greater and more relevant European comparability. Nonetheless, European universities should not shy from international comparison. The FDP sees an important opportunity in exchange and competition among universities to learn from other countries, in terms of the quality of teaching, funding possibilities, student-professor ratios, support for students and opportunities for entering the labour market on completion of a degree course.
Funding opportunities for students from non-EU countries are an important pillar for making studying in the EU more attractive. However, European universities should better highlight their existing strengths, such as the quality of teaching, the variety of their courses, cultural diversity and, not least, the principle of equal opportunity through relatively low fees .
There is room for improvement in the research sector and in the promotion of research within the EU. Public expenditure still represents an important proportion and provides for basic facilities. However, in addition to this, universities need to become more attractive as a research actor for companies, even from non-EU countries, in order to significantly increase the level of third-party funding. Basic research needs to be intensified. In this context, the FDP is in favour of fewer taboos in the run-up phase, and thus of freer research in new sectors. We continue to see the EU's role in coordinating activities at a European level, for example by bringing together research institutions in order to combining and increase their resources.
DIE LINKE welcomes the efforts of the EU to intensify cooperative educational projects with non-EU countries in the university sector. However, the focus of these intensified efforts should not be restricted to economic matters, as is currently being planned by the EU. Cooperative educational projects should, for example, serve the purpose of an exchange of teaching and learning methods, of content and of the organisational structures of educational programmes.
However, this exchange should not only benefit European universities, or be used to headhunt students and bring them to Europe: developing nations, in particular, are massively hindered in their continued development by such a policy. International educational cooperation projects need to take the form of equal partnerships in which all participants come to decisions and work together in a spirit of equality, and which benefit all parties equally. The objective is an increased quality of teaching at universities worldwide. In the opinion of DIE LINKE, every student has the right to a high-quality degree course.
In addition, and especially with cooperation projects with non-EU countries classified as developing countries, the establishment and expansion of universities should be supported with targeted financial and personnel assistance. Europe has co-responsibility for providing all people of this world with the right to education.
Not only does the Erasmus+ programme offer EU citizens the opportunity of gathering experience abroad, but it should also enhance partnerships with non-EU countries. Deeper partnerships need to be entered into or intensified, particularly with young people and university education, to form strategic cooperative partnerships for the development and implementation of joint initiatives, as well as for the promotion of exchanges of experiences. Erasmus+ focuses on universities and young people in the following areas – with the goal of promoting teaching, learning and research in partner countries:
Promotion of the mobility of young students from and to partner countries. This could focus on youth exchanges or voluntary work abroad for young people.
Combining knowledge in terms of university projects needs to be promoted, thereby reinforcing its influence on the modernisation and internationalisation of institutions of higher learning and intensifying the qualitative development in the labour market for young people in partner countries.
Intensification of political and social dialogue. It is necessary to consolidate the network of alumni and expert associations set up and to allow young people to become involved through participation in international events and conferences to this end.
These measures aimed at in the Erasmus+ programme thus form an integral component of Europe 2020 and contribute to the long-term development of the university system in non-EU countries.
Improved cooperation with non-European universities to ensure that study periods outside of the EU become more attractive should be considered.