S&T cooperation one of the most successful areas in EU-Russia relations, finds review of EU-Russia S&T agreement
Science and technology (S&T) cooperation is one of the most successful and promising areas in EU-Russia relations which provides strong positive signals to the general EU-Russia relationship. Strengthening of S&T and innovation cooperation between the EU and Russia is an essential element of the Strategic Partnership and substantially contributes to the Partnership for Modernization. These are the main results of a review of the EU-Russia S&T agreement; the review was published in August 2013. The EU-Russia S&T agreement was signed in 2000 and prolonged for two 5 year terms. Other main results of the review are that EU-Russia S&T cooperation is very intensive, mostly well balanced and efficient and – so far - successful. Many of the thematic priorities in S&T policies of the EU and Russia are compatible, and each of the partners have high level and potential of S&T knowledge and expertise. However, there still exist a number of administrative obstacles and fundamental barriers (e.g. customs and visa issues), which are hampering still more deepening, more efficient cooperation.
Revised Law on Education signed by President Putin
The law on education has been completely revised and has undergone an open consultation. It was approved by the government in July 2012 and signed by President Putin in January 2013. The law will simplify and make the regulation of education more coherent, because in addition to the basic law on education many other legal acts have been issued by different authorities. Moreover, the law will be adapted to the new realities of the institutional structure (Federal Universities, etc.). The academic autonomy will be specified now in a dedicated article. The law will come into effect in September 2013.
Parliamentary and Presidential Elections
Parliamentary elections were held in Russia in December 2011 and presidential elections in March 2012. In spite of significant losses, United Russia remained the main party in parliament. Former President Medvedev became Prime Minister and switched post with Vladimir Putin, who was elected to return to his previous post of Russian President. Elections were accompanied by protests against electoral fraud. Modernisation of the economy and stimulation of innovation activities were on the agenda of prime minister and president during the election campaign. The elections have led to changes of S&T policy makers: Dmitry Livanov was appointed new Minister of Education and Science on 21 May 2012.
Skolkovo Innovation Centre moves ahead
An innovation project pushed by the Russian President Medvedev since autumn 2009 concerns the Innovation Centre Skolkovo. A Russian kind of Silicon Valley shall be established from scratch, featuring preferential administrative treatment for investors and involving Russian and foreign R&D intensive businesses. The Skolkovo Foundation was established in 2010, involving a number of prominent national and international figures in its boards and councils. Construction, recruiting of personnel for the Innovation Centre and grant giving has started in 2011.
Strengthening research at universities prioritised in Russia
Strengthening the research capacities of Russian universities is a focus of Russian S&T policy in recent years. Accordingly the Innovative Universities programme provided substantial grants to 57 Russian Universities for purchase of equipment and training of staff for the period 2010-2012. Overall seven Federal Universities are in the process of being set-up on the basis of already existing universities. Additional financial support is allocated for this programme, which shall transform these universities in top class institutions. In the frame of a programme to establish a network of National Research Universities two calls were launched in 2009 and 2010; as a result 27 universities were selected for funding (12 in the first and 15 in the second call). Finally, in the frame of a programme to attract leading scientists to Russian universities four calls were lauched since 2010. Solid grants of up to €3.75m each were allocated to 40 scientists (including a majority from abroad) as a result of the call 2010 and to 39 scientists in the call 2011. The results of the call 2013 are expected in early 2014.
The appointment of Minister Livanov means continuity in this policy. As former rector of the National University of Science and Technology "MISIS", he has strong links to the universities. Moreover, he has in the past been involved in the management of programmes for strengthening research at universties.