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History

1959
Creation of the structures for the political and administrative coordination of science policy, including the Interministerial Commission for Science Policy (ICSP) and the National Council for Science Policy (NCSP). Science policy is included in the Prime Minister's portfolio.

1968
Creation of the post of Minister for Science Policy. The Science Policy Office (SPO) is established as a State administration. Publication of the first editions of the inventory of the country's scientific and technical potential. Subsequently, access to the inventory is fully computerized.

1969
Creation of a special "science policy" section in the budgets of the different departments with a view to the elaboration of an interdepartmental budgetary programme for science policy.

1970-1973
Launch of the first national research programmes by the SPO : environment/water and air quality (1970-1981) and data processing (1971-1981). Start- up of the first annual programmes of concerted research actions between the universities and the State. Belgium plays an active part in defining the objectives of "European Space". The SPO manages Belgian participation in the programmes of the European Space Agency, set up in 1975.

1975
Start-up of national R&D programmes in the fields of social sciences (1975- 1981) and energy (1975-1987). First operation of the Mathematic Model of the North Sea. OSP is in charge of the Belgian participation into the European Space Agency programmes. The creation of the Agency is decided at the European Interministry Space Conference held in Brussels and chaired by Belgium.

1976
Launch of the national R&D programme for the economics of waste and secondary materials (1976-1979). The concerted research actions are redefined on a multiannual basis. They continue until 1988, when they are transferred to the Communities following the institutional reform of that year.

1977
Initial preparations for a national research programme in civil aeronautics. From 1979 onwards, the SPO contributes towards the joint financing of participation by Belgian companies in the different Airbus R&D projects and the CFM engine programmes.

1979
Decision to build a public service oceanographic vessel, the Belgica. Launched in 1984, the ship is still in service.

1982
Implementation of technological innovation actions and programmes at national and international level, particularly the action programme for technologies based on microelectronics. These actions were regionalized over the period 1986-1988. .

1983
Implementation of a programme for the strengthening of scientific potential in new technologies through the recruitment of new researchers in the universities (1983- 1987).
Establishment of the Belgian Coordinated Collections of Microorganisms (BCCM), within the context of a national programme to upgrade life sciences. The BCCM have become a permanent fixture

1984
Allocation of specific budgetary appropriations to Belgium's participation in the first R&D framework programme of the European Communities (1984-1987). Appropriations are also earmarked for the following two framework programmes.
Launch of national research actions in support of the FAST programme of the Commission of the European Communities in the field of technology assessment (1984- 1987). Launch of the research programme in remote sensing by satellite. Prolonged in successive stages, this programme is still in hand, oriented towards promotion of the use of satellite images in many fields.

1985
Start-up of the research programme on the Antarctic, within the framework of Belgian participation in the Antarctic Treaty System. The programme, prolonged in successive stages, is still active. Belgium joins the Eureka initiative. Following the institutional reform of 1988, the Eureka projects are managed by the Regions, with the OSTC playing a national coordinating role and acting as spokesman within the international bodies (co-operation agreement of 1989 with the Regions and Communities).

1986
Implementation of the university poles of attraction programme (inter- university basic research networks bringing together teams from both Communities). The programme, still in course, is implemented in successive five-year stages.

1987
Launch of the national basic research programmes in artificial intelligence and life sciences (1987-1992).

1988
Implementation of the programme on information technologies (1988-1992). The telematics research network BELNET set up through this programme has been operational since 1993. The SPO is in charge of its continuous management and development. Belgium joins the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF).

1989
Following the institutional reform of 1988, creation of the Interministerial Science Policy Conference (IMCSP), comprising the Ministers of the different authorities responsible for science policy.

1990
Launch of several multiannual national programmes within the context of cooperation agreements with the Regions and Communities:
- social sciences (1990- 1994),
- health hazards (1990-1995),
- high-temperature superconductors (1990-1995),
- global change (still in course),
- transport and mobility (still in course).
Belgium joins the European molecular biology laboratory.

1991
Cooperation agreements between the State, the Communities and the Regions on the creation of "International Cooperation" and "Federal Cooperation" Committees of the IMCSP and on involvement of the different authorities in the activities carried out by the European Communities in the field of science policy.
The OSTC provides the Secretariat for these two Committees. Launch of national research programmes on the public economy and legal protection of the citizen. These two programmes were completed at the end of 1995. Co-operation agreement between the State and the Communities on AIDS research programme (1991-1995)

1992
Launch of the national R&D programme in marine sciences. This programme is still in course. Implementation of a programme intended to stimulate the development of research networks bringing together federal scientific etablishments and university teams (1992-1997).

1993
Implementation of the multiannual action plan (1993-1997) of scientific and technical research for certain policies of the federal authority: distribution of telecommunications, standardization, development of federal socio-economic databanks, health protection for workers, strengthening of the scientific and technological potential of the federal scientific establishments.

1994
Integration into the SPO of cells responsible for national matters at the "Ministère de l'Education nationale" and the "Ministerie van Onderwijs", the Community Affairs Administration, the State Scientific Institutes and the National Congress Service. The new amalgamated entity is called the Federal Office for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Affairs (OSTC).

1995
Implementation of a programme of forward socio-economic research (1995-2000). Launch of a plan of scientific and technical support for the information society (1996-2000). Belgian Presidency of Eureka (July 95 - June 96).

1996-1997
Launch of a scientific support plan for a policy of sustainable development (SPSD) (1996-2001). This plan (which is the subject of a cooperation agreement with the Regions) covers the following fields: climatic change and global environment, North Sea, Antarctica, mobility, foodstuff standards, Earth observation by satellite, levers for a sustainable development policy. Creation of the Federal Science Policy Council, an advisory body intended to replace the former National Council for Science Policy and composed of members appointed by the State, the Communities and the Regions, Belgian Presidency of the ESA Council.

1998-1999
Commemoration of 10 years of the TELSAT programme, followed by 10 years of research by the 'University Attraction Poles'. Broadcasting of the first images from ESO's VLT telescope. Start-up of the Vegetation image-processing centre at VITO in Mol. Annual conference of the Association of Space Explorers, attended by Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola. Meeting of the ESA ministerial council in Brussels, under the Belgian presidency. First commercial flight of the Ariane 5 rocket and commissioning of the XMM scientific satellite.
Opening of the "Vivre ou Survivre" ('live or survive') exhibition at the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences. Visit by His Majesty King Albert II to OSTC.
Commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the structures behind scientific policy in Belgium. Installation of the Federal Council on Scientific Policy (FCSP) in the presence of His Majesty King Albert II. "In search of lasting dialogue between science and politics " symposium. Extension of Belgian Co-ordinated Collections of Micro-organisms and launch of the workers' protection, modernisation of administrations and standardisation II programmes. Creation of OSTC's intranet system, giving staff access to a multitude of practical information (addresses, legal texts, standard documents, service memoranda, agendas of meetings, etc.).

2000
Assumption of office by the Minister for Economics and Science Research with responsibility for policy in major cities, Mr C. Picqué, and by the Government Commissioner serving as Deputy to the Minister for Scientific Research, Mr Y. Ylieff. Programme launches: 2nd Scientific Support Programme for a Sustainable Development Policy (SPSD2); Social Cohesion; Support for the Development of the Information Society; and Phase V of the Inter-University Attraction Poles.
Revamp of the OSTC website, complete with 11 on-line video sequences. Intranet becomes a daily working instrument for OSTC's 297 staff. Belnet prepares to make the jump to the much faster "Internet 2" (Belnet-GigaNet). Inauguration and opening to the public of the Musical Instruments Museum after its transfer from the Royal Brussels Music Conservatory to the Royal Museums of Art and History. Seminar on, "What future for cable distribution?".
ESA launches four Cluster2 scientific satellites. Signing of a Belgo-Argentinian co-operation agreement for the development of the SAOCOM satellite. Adoption by the ESA Council and EU Research Council of a common space strategy. Decision by the Federal Government to participate in the development of the Airbus A380. Signing of a framework agreement between Russia and Belgium for co-operation in advanced space technology. Round table on, "10 years of transport research: a dialogue between scientific research and political decision-making".

2001
Development of a "customer-oriented" approach on the website and production of a site for young people. All indicators, data and other relevant information concerning R&D statistics in Belgium are made available on-line via the Internet.
Distribution of some thirty publications in printed form and/or on-line. Launch of 20 projects within the framework of "Agora" recurrent action (scientific support for federal administration databases). Launch of action on, "Monographs on the use of the 2002 General Socio-Economic Survey and the National Atlas". Contribution to the implementation by the OECD of its Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Launch of the Technology Attraction Poles (TAP) programme.

2002
The Science Policy Office faces new human, technical or financial challenges, together or separately, sticking to its leitmotiv “to the benefit of the country, its communities and regions, for the citizen, the researchers and the decision makers”:
The Odissea mission of Frank DE WINNE, eleven days on the International Space Station within the frame of an agreement between the European and Russian space agencies; the completion of about 20 embarqued experiments, whom some from our universities.
The publication of the “White paper” on the modernization of 10 Federal scientific institutes which host an outstanding heritage of more than 6,2 billions euros value.
The upgrade of the Belnet network, the telematic research network, which allows also internet connection at high capacity for the Belgian high schools and universities.
The opening of the national research programmes to European research teams (Europe with 25 member States) and the involvement in the 6th R&D-framework programme of the European Commission.
The signature of scientific cooperation agreements with Vietnam, China or UNESCO. The transformation of the OSTC into a "Federal Public Planning Service Science Policy”.

2003
Some Minister's resignations lead to the nomination of a Deputy Minister for the Minister of Science Policy. In the administration, a President of Direction Committee is appointed in place of the Secretary General, who received other duty.
The Frank DE WINNE's “post flight tour” goes across ten Belgian cities; .. and in Brussels, the famous "Manneken-pis" gets his first astronaut uniform.

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