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The year 2010 is unquestionably an important date in the European Union’s history. With the revision of the Lisbon Agenda and the launch of its successor, the Europe 2020 Strategy, the EU member states are striving to give a new push for economic growth and to find ways to cope with many emerging challenges, from globalisation to climate change and an ageing population. Breakthrough developments in science and technology are a prerequisite for high-level achievements in these areas.
But how do European ‘citizens’ see European science and technology developments? This was the overarching question pursued by the special edition of the Eurobarometer survey Science and Technology released in late June. The survey was conducted between January and February 2010 on a sample of close to 27 000 respondents.
The results seem to highlight a declining optimism on the positive effects of science and technology developments for European society compared to results of similar surveys conducted in 2001 and 2005. This time more than three quarters of respondents declared that they were at least moderately (or very) interested in developments in this area; however, surprisingly enough, despite their declared high interest, only 11% of participants believed they were very well informed about scientific discoveries.
Overall, the survey points out the main information gaps that need to be filled in order to improve the public perception of science and technology in the EU.