Prospects for the Future


The integration of European Union (EU) economies into a single market of more than 360 million people is expected to create conditions for more growth in the future. In addition, European governments are in the process of restructuring their economies to increase their competitiveness in global markets, a process begun in the United States in the late 1980s. As trade barriers around the world are falling and as Asian and Latin American economies are developing and integrating into the world marketplace, European countries face increasing pressures. Companies are downsizing, and governments are selling state-owned industry to the private sector to increase their efficiency. The United Kingdom led in this privatizing effort. The French government sold Elf-Aquitaine to private investors and Germany plans to do likewise with Deutsche Telekom. Europe's economic integration is encouraging this privatization by adapting pro-competition rules and discouraging subsidies to state-owned industries. The value of sales of such national industries to the private sector, begun in the 1990s, is estimated by the European Economic Research and Advisory Consortium to reach $100 to $150 billion by 1998.

Research and development (R&D) expenditures in Europe are not expected to increase, in the near term, as rapidly as they did in the 1980s (EC,1994b). Several European countries, such as France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, which increased R&D rapidly throughout the 1980s, now need to manage tight public science budgets while reorienting programs to contribute to wealth creation. Defense R&D is expected to continue to decline in the United Kingdom and in France, based on their proposed science budgets (EC, 1994b). However, in the long term, if Europe can achieve better economic growth through unification and integration of the research base, R&D expenditures will probably increase again [43] . The EU will continue to work on the integration of European research. It will be helped in this effort by the new advisory panel, the European Science and Technology Assembly (ESTA), consisting of 100 members nominated by the European Science Foundation and the Association of All European Academies. Through ESTA, scientists will help to shape the EU research budget and also oversee the commission's methods of peer review of proposed projects.

The EU Framework Program will also continue to work for increased mobility and the improvement of the international education of science and engineering (S&E) students for the future workforce throughout Europe. Many European postdocs are receiving funding to spend several years working in another country. EU follow-on activities to ERASMUS for student and teacher mobility will be under the new SOCRATES Program, and LEONARDO will support a Community vocational training program (AAAS, 1994b). The EU will also provide funding for trans-Atlantic links to exchange students and teachers between EU and U.S. universities (EC, 1992; AAAS, 1994b). The current employment of non-nationals, many of whom come from outside Europe, represent less than 10 percent of the total stock of scientists and engineers in non-university research laboratories. This proportion is expected to grow in the future (Healey, 1994a).

The successor program, SOCRATES, for 1995-1999, is funded for $800 million to support 700,000 undergraduate student exchanges. As the successor to the Human Capital and Mobility Program, the new Framework Program for Training and Mobility of Researchers, is funded for $700 million to support the exchange of 7,000 postdoctoral researchers.It is likely that the integration of science and technology in Europe, through increased mobility and international collaboration among EU scientists, will encourage rather than diminish collaboration with the United States. For example, Germany is promoting U.S.-German graduate student exchanges at the University of Aachen and is fostering an international engineering community by encouraging companies from the United States, Canada, and Japan to join their industrial science park south of Aachen. Since 1993, Germany has become the leading European country in the number of students earning doctoral degrees at U.S. universities in science and engineering. (Previously, Greece was the major country of origin of foreign students from Europe.) By 1995, foreign students from Germany earned over 300 doctorial degrees from U.S. universities, over 200 of them in fields of science and engineering (NSF, 1996).

The proportion of foreign students from particular regions will most likely affect the focus of major European countries in training scientists and engineers and in building S&E infrastructure in developing countries. Based on their training of foreign students, France is intensifying its relations with Africa, and Germany with Eastern Europe. The United Kingdom will have further educational and commercial interactions with her former colonies in the Pacific Rim as well as increasing interaction with the EU countries.


[43] The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) latest projections of real gross domestic product growth for EU countries are quite positive (OECD, OECD Economic Outlook 57, Paris, 1995).