The president of FCT, Miguel Seabra, recently elected unanimously to head Science Europe from September 2014, answered questions from Nature magazine about the balance between homogenization and cooperation in research in Europe. Stressing the role that Science Europe has played as a "third voice" (alongside governments and the European Commission) in the debate on the creation of the European Research Area (ERA), Miguel Seabra explained that the organization's view is that "the diversity of [research] systems is an asset and not a disadvantage," such that "we[Science Europe] do not share the vision of a federalized, homogeneous, centralized European research system."
The interview took place during the third annual meeting of the Global Research Forum, where more than 60 research and science funding organizations, including FCT, discussed measures to establish a common basis for funding early career researchers, and open access to scientific publications and data. On the latter topic, Miguel Seabra stressed the undeniable importance of open access for the advancement of science, and drew attention to some issues that Science Europe considers seriously: flexibility in the approaches adopted, quality of repositories and associated costs. The approach of the European organization he will lead is to "understand the positions involved, without taking an arrogant attitude".
Asked about the impact of austerity on the Portuguese research system, Miguel Seabra, explained that "since 2011, we [the FCT] have been able to pay the same amounts, or slightly higher amounts, as a result of an effort to better use the European structural funds for science, which make up one third of the FCT budget. Also according to the President of FCT, this effort will help to meet the challenge of the system's growth in quality, after 10 to 20 years of unquestionable quantitative growth. The funding is more competitive, "in the context of the crisis and the exponential growth of the scientific community. FCT is introducing new rules, according to internationally accepted standards for peer review, to ensure greater transparency and rigor in the evaluation process.
Science Europe comprises 50 organizations that support or conduct scientific research, from 27 European countries, representing an annual budget of 30 billion euros. Created in October 2011, it aims to promote the collective interests of its members, and create a platform for collaboration on science policy and activities. In September 2014 Miguel Seabra succeeds Paul Boyle (President of the UK Economic and Social Research Council) as President. The President of Science Europe is elected by the General Assembly for a two-year term.