Dear EMS member,
At the beginning of this year, let me express my best wishes for a prosperous and peaceful 2013. It is my pleasure to be in touch with you to report on some aspects of the work of the Society in 2012, along with some plans for activities in the near future.
The biennial Council and the 6ECM, both held in Kraków last July, were among the activities in 2012 that required more concentration. In return, they provided a large visibility to the EMS. In the September edition of the Newsletter, several articles are devoted to the Congress. A detailed report on the Council, written by the EMS Secretary Stephen Huggett, appears in the December edition.
The Polish Mathematical Society and the Jagiellonian University did a tremendous job with the organization of the Congress. National, regional and local governmental institutions provided invaluable support and generous funding. The 6ECM was a great and very successful event, an occasion to confirm the good health and vibrant and exciting state of mathematics, and an exceptional showcase for our discipline.
Council attendance was very high. This is a positive sign of the involvement of membership with the Society. One of the Council decisions worth noting in your agenda was about the next 7th European Congress of Mathematics: it will be held in Berlin on July 18-22, 2016. The first steps for its organization have already begun.
A new Vice-president, Franco Brezzi, and four Executive Committee members at large, Alice Fialowski, Gert-Martin Greuel, Laurence Halpern and Armen Sergeev, were elected by the Council. Former Vice-President Mireille Martin-Deschamps together with members Zvi Artstein, Igor Krichever, Rui Loja-Fernandes, left the Executive Committee at the end of last year. I take this opportunity to welcome the new members and to express my gratitude to those who stepped down for their devoted work and collaboration with the Society.
Nowadays, crucial problems related with publication of scientific work are demanding the attention of scientists, publishers and policy-makers. The enormous development of information technologies has facilitated the immediate dissemination of new results. This is producing dramatic changes in the classical publication models with many consequences, in particular on the prices. Last summer, the European Commission proposed that Open Access would be the general principle for research funded under Horizon 2020. It also recommended that EU Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own national programmes. At the Council, in a section devoted to publications, some of the implications of these changes were presented in a panel consisting of past-presidents Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, Rolf Jeltsch and Ari Laptev. In particular, ethical aspects were considered. The Code of Practice, prepared by the Ethics Committee and approved by Council, is a clear example of EMS commitment to support good practices and to avoid unethical behaviour in mathematical publications.
As a learned society, the EMS must build up a position on a sustainable open access publication model, scientifically reliable, and suitable for every mathematician, independently of the workplace. There is also the necessity to design strategies to adapt the EMS Publishing House to this new world, to comply with the principle of good service to the mathematical community that inspired its foundation ten years ago. With these overarching aims, we are now taking the final steps for the formation of an EMS Publications Committee chaired by Bernard Teissier. You will be informed of the composition of the committee very soon.
With the objective to improve the database of experts in mathematics for evaluation tasks, the EMS has elaborated and delivered to the European Commission a long list of mathematicians from different fields that could collaborate with the assessment of proposals submitted to the EU’s calls. This was done after contacts with the Director of European Research Area.
With the winding up of the European Science Foundation, a very useful funding instrument for mathematics, the Research Networking Programmes (RNP), has disappeared. COST Actions are quite similar to RPN in structure although larger in funding. However COST is only open to projects belonging to some prioritized domains, and mathematics is not targeted by any of them. Through direct contacts with the COST President, we are currently devoting efforts to have mathematics as one of the targeted domains.
The Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament has been working on the elaboration of the documents for the implementation of Horizon 2020, the EU framework programme for research and innovation for 2014-2020. These documents have to be approved by the European Council and by the Parliament. Personal contacts with some members of Parliament have provided us with the possibility to discuss some amendments, to gain more insight on the budgetary problems, and also to have access to politicians and officers for future contacts.
Throughout the year, many activities around Horizon 2020, like public consultations, workshops, conferences, have been held. EMS has participated in some of them.
Horizon 2020 has not yet been adopted. Its overall budged depends on decisions on the total EU budget. These were to be taken in the Summit of Heads of EU member states held on November 22-23. However, a lack of agreement forced a postponement.
Before the Summit, the Initiative for Science in Europe organized a petition for the attention of EU Heads of State against cuts in the EU budget for research, innovation and education, with strong advocacy for the European Research Council (ERC). More than 150.000 scientists and organizations signed. Undoubtedly, ERC grants are of crucial importance for fundamental science. We are already witnessing the very beneficial effect on mathematical research. Published statistics on its first five years of existence clearly show the very high success of a group of few European countries. I had the opportunity to talk with ERC President Helga Nowotny and to agree on the necessity to discuss and eventually to implement measures in order to increase the success of talented researchers working in some geographical areas of Europe.
Throughout this year, the EMS will be involved in many activities. Let me mention a few.
The Danish Mathematical Society (DMF) is celebrating its 140th anniversary. On this occasion, our Danish colleagues have invited the Presidents of EMS member societies to hold their Sixth Meeting in Aarhus on April 6. In spite of their short history, these meetings have already proved to provide an excellent occasion to set up collaborations within societies, to strengthen the links between EMS and its member societies, and to nurture the Executive Committee with ideas for new initiatives. To have more accurate information on the topics that could raise the highest interest from participants, we are currently preparing a questionnaire that will be sent to presidents of national societies. I thank the DMF for the kind invitation, and express my congratulations for its achievements and my best wishes for a prosperous future.
In combination with this event, a joint EMS-DMF Mathematical Weekend will take place on April 5-7 also in Aarhus.
The EMS will be the international partner society of the 26th Nordic Congress of Mathematicians that will take place in Lund on June 10-13. The Congress is dedicated to the memory of the outstanding Swedish mathematician Lars Hörmander, who passed away last November. We feel proud to co-operate in a scientific event with such a long-standing tradition in the Nordic countries.
Two major yearlong international initiatives will contribute to raise awareness of mathematics not only in scientific environments but also in society at large. These are the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 (MPE2013) and the International Year of Statistics (IYS2013) The EMS is a partner of the former and a participant of the latter. The committee Raising Public Awareness of Mathematics is involved in planning and running several activities under MPE2013. As for the contribution to the IYS2013, the EMS jointly with the Bernoulli Society will organize the first of a series of lectures under the theme What can statistics/mathematics do for mathematics/statistics? at the 29th European Meeting of Statisticians which will take place in Budapest on 20-25 July 2013.
In Europe, the tradition of private sponsorship of projects devoted to mathematics education is neither equally practised in the different geographical areas nor widely acknowledged. By an initiative of the EMS Committee on Education, the meeting Friends of Mathematics Education -A European Initiative will take place in Berlin on March 14-15. The main objectives are to raise awareness of already existing projects funded by different types of organizations, to enhance their impact and interactions, and to foster the creation of new initiatives in countries with limited or non-existing tradition.
The year 2012 left us with the sad news of the death of the first EMS President, Friedrich Hirzebruch. The current successful situation of EMS owes very much from his wise leadership during the first crucial steps of the Society. We honour his memory.
I could not end this report without expressing my gratitude to the Executive Committee members for their continued collaboration. I should also mention the terrific work done within the EMS committees. Special thanks go to their chairs for leading teams who generously devote part of their time to develop very many EMS projects, and to all those who collaborate with us in whatever way.
January 7, 2013
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