How can medical research charities engage in Europe?

Posted on April 12, 2012 by


How does the European Union work? What role does the European Commission play? And how can we interact with Members of the European Parliament? How can we champion health research across Europe – improving policy-making and funding? Who is doing this effectively? And how are they doing it?

WOW! That’s a lot of questions! But if you’re involved in policy then you probably need to know the answers. That’s why AMRC is holding an afternoon workshop with a range of speakers who have direct experience of engaging with Europe, giving you the chance to gain advice, information and contacts, and have the opportunity to discuss your ideas and shape AMRC’s activity in Europe.

Why is Europe relevant to medical research charities in the UK?

The EU and its policies have a huge impact on research here in the UK. For example, the EU Clinical Trials Directive was introduced to bring all clinical trials conducted within the EU under the same legislation, but since its introduction there have been concerns that it is increasing delays and costs. The EU also funds research across Europe – currently through Framework 7 which is due to finish in 2013 and be replaced by Horizon 2020 from 2014 to 2020. These represent challenges and opportunities, but unless you understand how the EU works and have a foot in the door at many of the offices and institutions that coordinate European research and innovation initiatives – not to mention knowing all the acronyms – you won’t stand much chance of influencing them, let alone benefitting from them.

The size and number of medical research charties in the UK is pretty unique in Europe. Whereas medical research is the most popular charitable cause for donors in the UK, in many other EU states social programmes and the arts dominate. The EU has acknoweldged the potential of philanthropy in promoting research and development but – with a few notable exceptions – charities largely remain on the periphery of policy making in Brussels. There are however opportunities to change this, and given the size of the medical research charities sector in the UK, there may be potential for the UK to be leaders in championing the role of charities in funding research and the benefits that we bring with our unique funding strategies.

What is AMRC doing about it?

Medical research funders are pretty good at working together and influencing policy across the UK, but we do not have such a strong, coordinated voice in Brussels. To help us decide how best we can engage in Europe we have produced a report (to be published on our website soon) to unravel the EU policies that impact on medical research. It also investigates how other countries are engaged with the EU and explores their R&D strategies. It includes a great example of how the EU has taken the lead with funding and intitiatives to coordinate research into rare diseases across Europe: because of their rarity, pooling of resources and affected patient populations can have great advantages for research into these diseases.

We’re now organising a workshop to present the findings of the report and to help us all get to grips with the EU. We hope this will be an opportunity to discuss how medical research charities – either individually or through AMRC – can have a louder voice in Europe.

What can I expect at the workshop?

We’ve lined up a great set of speakers who have tonnes of experience at various levels of European policy making and in working with European partners – either NGOs or EU offices. you’ll get an an overview of the key structures and networks in Europe, background on the charity/research environment and existing initiatives, and an insight into the approaches taken by other European member states. It will be an opportunity to meet individuals working in and around Europe and those exploring how they can be more engaged. You will gain advice, information and contacts, and have the opportunity to discuss your ideas and shape AMRC’s future activity in Europe.

Confirmed speakers:

  • Michael Thomas – ESRC Fellow, Cardiff University, who will discuss the findings of his report, commissioned by AMRC, on medical research policy, funding and initiatives of the EU
  • Dr Mark Palmer – Head of International Strategy, MRC
  • Andy Flagg – Parliamentary Assistant to Glenis Willmott MEP, Leader, European Parliamentary Labour Party
  • Nancy Lee – Senior Policy Advisor, Wellcome Trust
  • Layla Theiner – Public Affairs Manager, Cancer Research UK
  • Rod Mitchell – Chair of IBD Research Foundation Management Board and member of several European networks including EGAN, EPPOSI and the European Patients Forum.
  • Dr Kieran Breen – Director of Research, Parkinson’s UK
  • Nick Sireau – Chairman of the AKU Society

We’re really looking forward to this event as engaging effectively with Europe is increasingly more important for us all working in science policy. We hope you can join us!

The workshop will be held at AMRC HQ in London on the 23 April. For more information and to download the booking form, click here.

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