On Wednesday, February 17, 2010, The European Institute convened a special meeting of the European-American Policy Forum with Sigi Gruber, Head of Unit for Analysis and Monitoring of Research Policies around the World in DG Research at the European Commission and Dr. Norman P. Neureiter, Senior Advisor at the Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The meeting addressed frameworks for transatlantic partnership on research & development and innovation. While the European Union has placed renewed emphasis on research and innovation Ms. Gruber outlined Commission initiatives in research cooperation and highlighted the importance of research, innovation and education in the EU 2020 Strategy. Dr. Neureiter discussed the challenges in international research cooperation, including funding, research duplication and visa regimes. He also recognized that cooperation between scientific communities or Science Diplomacy, can be an effective diplomatic tool with countries where political relations are stressed or lacking.
Estonia became the first country to introduce nationwide voting via internet when this technology was used in legislative elections in February 2007. About three percent of the electorate availed themselves of this option. The experiment was deemed a success; no problems were reported; and it may have helped increase voter participation. In other countries, including European nations and the U.S., the idea of online elections has earned mixed reviews, partly because of fears that larger countries allow more scope for hacking and tampering.
But Estonians were hardly surprised to find themselves setting the pace. Estonia, the northernmost of the three Baltic countries, has made extraordinary strides in information technology, both in nationwide penetration and in innovative global applications. Similarly, the emergence of Skype, the global internet phone company with technology invented in Estonia, prompted the New York Times to dub Estonia “the Silicon Valley of the Baltic.’’
Knowledge has become the main driving force of modern economies and whole societies. Accelerated by powerful information and communication technologies and by globalization, this trend affects countries, organizations and individuals. While it obviously poses risks to many stakeholders, an emphasis on the “knowledge-based economy” offers opportunities to new players in all categories. For advanced industrialized countries with high labor and infrastructure costs, it offers competitive advantages in high-technology industries and efficient service sectors. For transition economies, it offers improved technologies and higher value-added products with closer customer linkages, as well as a path towards sustainable development. For developing countries, it offers opportunities to short-circuit development phases, leapfrog technologies and integrate faster into the global economy.
One of the difficulties in formulating health policy is that the options are constrained by an iron rectangle of four, often-conflicting policy objectives, which seem virtually impossible to achieve at the same time.We want human beings to have universal access to health care; we want that care to be of the highest possible quality; we want it to be affordable; and we want constant innovation to ensure that our health care systems deliver the latest medicines, devices and techniques.
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