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XXII Portugal-Spain Summit

 - 25/11/2006

Portugal and Spain flagsThe XXII Portugal-Spain Summit was held in Badajoz on 24-25 November 2006. It was chaired by the Portuguese Prime Minister, José Sócrates, and by the President of the Government of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. It saw the signature ceremony for the Convention between the two countries’ governments approving the Statutes of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), fulfilling the agreement made two years before in Évora at the XXI Portugal-Spain Summit. These Statutes now have to go through the parliamentary approval process in both countries as an International Treaty and will then go to the Heads of State for ratification.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at the 21st Summit, setting up a bilateral Technical Committee to prepare a detailed proposal including definitions of the initial lines of scientific and technological activity to pursue, the Institute’s operational model, how it will be funded, and the partnerships to be set up and methods and timeframe for setting it up. It was agreed that this committee would comprise representatives from The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), the Office for International Science and Higher Education Relations (GRICES) and the Council of Associate Laboratories (CLA), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education from Portugal, and the Directorate-General for Research (DGI), the Directorate-General for Technology Policy (DGTP) and the Directorate-General for Universities (DGU), and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain. This Technical Committee was chaired by the President of The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal, and by the Secretary-General for Scientific and Technology Policy and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kingdom of Spain.

The Technical Committee’s progress report that was drafted to be handed to the governments of both countries included, inter alia, the proposal for the institute to focus on the nanotechnology and nanoscience areas, and guidelines for the legal framework and administrative organisation for the institute as an international science and technology organisation. This proposal took on board recommendations from an International Scientific Board consisting of eminent scientists in the areas under consideration. As regards the legal framework aspects, contributions came from Jean-Marie Dufour, Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva and President of the Geneva International Academic Network, who was a legal adviser for CERN European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, which was founded in 1956, and who was involved in setting up the main international research laboratories in Europe, namely the ESO – European Southern Observatory, set up in 1962 and based in Garching, Germany, the EMBL – European Molecular Biology Laboratory, inaugurated in 1978 in Heidelberg, and the ESRF – European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, set up in Grenoble in 1988. The Technical Committee worked in conjunction with Helmut Krech, Administrative Director of the ESRF on the administrative points.

The Technical Committee report was used as the basis in preparing the Convention on the INL Statutes. The signing of this Convention is a key step in setting up this international laboratory. It was preceded over the last two months by a series of decisive actions.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education and Braga Municipal Council signed the agreement giving the State the municipal land to build the institute on 17 November 2006. The land covers an area of 47,455 m2 and is located roughly 500 metres from the Universidade do Minho’s Gualtar Campus, on the site selected by the Technical Committee from all the proposed locations received. On the same day, an agreement was signed between the said Ministry and the Universidade do Minho granting university premises for the institute's Installing Committee.

The 23 November 2006 meeting of the Council of Ministers approved the creation of the Installing Committee for the Iberian International Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) as a private non-profit making public utility association. Its respective statutes were also approved, as published under Decree Law No. 66/2007, of 19 March (text in Portuguese).

The Portuguese associates of the Installing Committee are the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, via the Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), and on the Spanish side, the Ministry of Education and Science, represented by its Secretary-General’s Office for Scientific and Technological Policies. The Installing Committee’s objective is to carry out all additional actions required for the duration of setting up the INL. It is its responsibility to launch international calls for tender for the design and/or construction of the premises, hiring of scientific and administrative staff, as well as preparing and carrying out the scientific activity programme until the INL starts operating.

The Science and Technology Foundation (FCT) and the Spanish Dirección General de Investigación opened a call for scientific research and technology development projects in Nanotechnology (text in Portuguese), in the scope of the science and technology cooperation between Spain and Portugal as regards the INL. The call specifically focussed on the following topics: nanomedicine (diagnostic systems, therapeutic applications and controlled medication release) and nanotechnology for environmental control and for food safety and quality. The call is aimed at multidisciplinary research teams of international scientific and technological excellence in the areas given and mixed teams, that is to say, involving researchers from Spanish or Portuguese public institutions or private not-for-profit institutions, with at least one team from each country involved in each project. An international panel of independent assessors from other countries shall evaluate these projects. They shall be named through agreement between the FCT and the Spanish Dirección General de Investigación. This will be the first time the two countries have adopted this evaluation scheme for bilateral cooperation projects.

The Spanish and Portuguese initiative was presented on 6 October 2006 by the President of The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) at the first Lisbon Strategy best practices seminar, which was held in Lisbon under the title “ Excellence and Partnerships towards an Innovative Europe”. Participants included the Lisbon Strategy Coordinators from the Member States of the European Union, the President of the European Commission and one of his Vice-Presidents (the Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry).

The Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC) was directly involved through its President in preparing the Science, Technology, Information Society and Higher Education component for the 22nd Portugal-Spain Summit. The President of UMIC, Luis Magalhães, accompanied the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, José Mariano Gago, at the Summit.

Last updated ( 11/08/2011 )