The European Commission



1980 - 2007: The NewPOL Network Impression


Back in the 1980s, I appealed to the European Commission because no help whatsoever came from the traditional national (in and outside Belgium) institutions; quite the contrary. I came across two people at the Commission who immediately encouraged my efforts: I could use the EC platform/reference to go ahead with my endeavours. This was made easier due to the fact that I was not requesting any funds. Still, were it not for these two people working at the European Commission, the IMNRC and NewPOL Network may not have existed.  

So as now Founding Director/CEO of the IMNRC and Principal Coordinator of the NewPOL Network, I am indebted to the European Commission.  

I soon came to realise however that EC Officials/Officers whose innovative ideas, character and personalities stood out were the exception and not the rule. Even though the European Commission is an institution that is definitely changing (more accessible to the public), avant-garde Officers inside the Commission are more than often held back and disserved in their enterprise because they depend on and enrol conventionally minded collaborators who are quite unable to practically understand the very notion of integrated interdisciplinarity, both on the surface and deep inside. 

On the surface: the 7nth FP is still a caricature of knowledge fragmentation that is incompatible with the notion of integrated interdisciplinarity. This was even recognised privately by a EC Official. Furthermore, the FP7 project submission procedure is still far too complex and discouraging. 

Deep inside:  a lack of elegance. Euroscience and Foresight are two initiatives that have used the NewPOL Network ideas without the slightest academic or economic recognition. This may also be true of some departments in the European Parliament.   

Internal dysfunctions have plagued the EC for years and the European Union paid the price: loss of credibility and institutional crisis. 

The NewPOL Network's best way to help and thank the European Commission has been – and still is - through hard but nevertheless constructive criticism. We offer to simplify the internal complexity of the EC Institution from inside. Through interfaces. 

The NewPOL Network has exceptionally been given the possibility to give a presentation before the Acting Director of ERA and only quite recently, has received official encouragement to set up two important project resolutions regarding the environment and linguistic/community issues in Belgium. Also through interfaces. [Click on Other ---> British School of Brussels (Tervuren)]



Gender Equality in Europe Patient Conference on Stem Cells - Social sciences and humanities in Europe: New challenges, new opportunities - The Quantum Structure of Space and Time - Communicating European Research CER 2005 - Knowledge-Based Bio Economy.



European Movement International (EMI) - Invitation - Lecture theme & Workshop: "Gender Equality in Europe" - European Economic and Social Committee (Jacques Delors building) - 09.00-17.30hrs, Brussels, 25th January 2007. [Read more...]

"Patient Conference on Stem Cells" [Web Site]. Brussels 15-16 December 2005.

For the first time, a European conference was held to focus on what patients thought about stem cell research and therapy.

Stem cells aren’t new. Neither are stem cell therapies. For the past 30 years or so, adult stem cells and more recently stem cells from umbilical cord blood have been saving lives and easing the pain for thousands of citizens.

They’ve been used to treat leukaemia and other cancer types sufferers. New research developments offer hopes for treatment of a wide range of other disorders or diseases, such as diabetes, cardio-vascular and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s). Many sources of human stem cells, including from embryos are currently explored by the scientists.

Now we wanted to know what patients knew and thought about stem cells!

This Conference was conducted as an open and interactive forum. Seventy-five per cent of the audience were patients from Europe, whose conditions could be improved, or are being already improved, by stem cell therapies and treatments.

This event was recorded and made available to the media.


[20 December 2005]

Not one MEP was present.

There was however an assistant MEP among the participants.

The Conference focussed on the embryonic/adult stem cell dilemma.

The majority agreed that it would be unethical NOT to do Stem Cell Research (Adult or Embryonic). 

An apparent minority was quite adamant about Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy. According to one representative, some patients suffering from severe neurological disease would NOT accept Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy because it would "take away a life". I never saw any such patient in the assembly. 

Has the embryo got an identity? Is it a unique form of life? Does the embryo represent life?

Is Identity not an illusion created by our Ego? Is there such a thing as an Italian, a Chinese, a Russian gene/DNA? A Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, ...gene/DNA? I don't think so. 

The whole body - the "identity" - is in permanent dynamic equilibrium with the environment. Even though you may outwardly appear the same, every single atom in your body is subject to a periodic turn-over. So you are NOT the same. Some of "you" is already "living" somewhere else... we shed cells, molecules and atoms that are processed elsewhere: microorganisms, plants, insects, animals and even directly by other human beings through simple breathing and many other ways. Some of our elementary constituents come from stars in our Galaxy...  So life goes on...and different forms. There is a fundamental interconnectedness between everything and everyone, in space and time. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that all the DNA in this world may be an unbroken chain of low frequency contacts.

Now this raises an essential question: since basic interrelatedness/interconnectedness between everyone and everything is an established physical fact, what is the point of creating a concept to "unite" what is already united? 

So what is the use - or purpose - of religion? We ARE united...but uniting what is already united leads to artificial unification and endless difficulties! Indeed, how are you ever going to "unite" a "Buddhist" with a "Muslim" with a "Jew" with a "Roman Catholic" with an "Orthodox" with...? Good luck to you!

Could The Mind be "The Devil In Disguise" laughing its head off for having fooled so many billions of human beings for millennia? 


What is Life is a very difficult question to answer.

What is death...? Parts of us die everyday...only to live elsewhere. 

So these notions - Life & Death - are very relative.


Another issue that raised concern was the notion of "instrumentalising the embryo". Does sound rather ghastly when worded this way; I guess this was why the phrase was so chosen. But on reflection, Nature instrumentalises with itself all the time... So...??


I feel we must be more careful with the words we use: some words have such suggestive power that they can mobilise and influence the opinion of masses, some have lost their meanings, some have meanings that vary widely from person to person, some are completely inadequate to describe "the observed"...and you get mixed up in semantics. indeed, what is the real fate of countless embryos?

Once again, this notion of identity is largely a global learning issue. Education has to be entirely rethought. 


What is going to be the follow-up of this Conference? Please go to CWINs.

Social sciences and humanities in Europe: New challenges, new opportunities”. [Web Site]. Brussels 12-13 December 2005.

Social sciences and humanities are key components of Europe's RTD policy. The Commission's proposals for the 7th Framework Programme include important measures to support social sciences and humanities. This major European conference addressed the broader strategic context of the development of social sciences and humanities in Europe, and explore policy options at European and international levels.

The conference discussed strategic issues and options for social sciences and humanities in relation to the research funding instruments and mechanisms included in the Commission's proposal for the 7th Framework Programme, with emphasis on the broader international dimensions. Specifically, the conference involved senior researchers and policy-makers from Europe as well as the US, Canada, South Africa, China, Japan and elsewhere.

Furthermore, the conference also included a strong scientific agenda, aiming at contributing to the elaboration of European research agendas in three interrelated areas which represent major challenges for the EU and span the range of social science and humanities issues outlined in the Commission's proposals for the 7th Framework Programme, namely:

- Growth, competitiveness, employment and sustainability in a knowledge-based society.

- Societal trends and European citizens

- Europe in the world: understanding changing interactions and interdependencies between world regions.





                                                         [20 December 2005]

The Conference focussed on and recognised the need for "Interdisciplinarity" and a new thinking paradigm. Everyone spoke of interdisciplinarity but no one really knew how to go about implementing this strange "alien" notion. Integrated interdisciplinarity is still a very long way ahead.

This reminds me of the CER Conference that focussed on "Communication". Everyone was desperate to communicate but didn't really know how, facilitating one field/channel and shutting off another.

Interdisciplinarity and Communication are linked...


I remarked to the Commissioner Potocnik that Interdisciplinarity was basically an educational problem. Education in 2005 is still far too fragmented, compartmentalised and conventional, much like the FPs...that encourage disciplinary (thematic) instead of interdisciplinary thinking thereby enforcing vicious circles. Present day education does NOT prepare you to an integrated interdisciplinary frame of mind: it hampers this process more than anything else.

Commissioner Potocnik agrees with the NewPOL Network and is open to suggestions ... In other words, this seems to be a direct appeal to the NewPOL Network. This is not too surprising considering that, as all of you know, we shall be making an important presentation to the acting director of ERA.

I told the panel at the end of the conference that Interdisciplinarity is essentially an Interface Assimilation Issue, that the NewPOL Network has been working in this area for quite some time now ever since it presented its Expression of Interest "The Physics of Life and the neuroimmunoendocrine system: an integrated understanding of diseases and healing potential in the human being explored using novel approaches to therapy". The EoI is so vast and complex that we can only begin investigation during PART II of the IMIRC.

I also remarked that we must think to the distant future when full integrated interdisciplinarity shall lead to a situation where the very notion of "job", "profession", "training" shall acquire a different meaning, a different flavour...


Many were enthusiastic regarding the creation of a Ph.D. in the Social Sciences/Humanities.

This may highlight the Social Sciences, but I am sceptical regarding the impact of such degrees on the Well Being and Quality of Life... Indeed, please refer to Academia and The People [The European Parliament].

The Social Sciences and humanities concern each and every human being on this planet: not just the Academic Elite. The so-called "lay" people are not to be just "observed" and "used" like animals in a laboratory - the "Social System Lab" - for peer reviewed publications.

If Human and Social Sciences Projects are going to have any impact and be of any use to society - and not just remain in the high spheres - then we must get through to the public. And in order to do so, it is essential that the link between what Human and Social Sciences have to offer and the World Society Well Being and Quality of Life be clearly established and made intelligible to all.

This link must stand out clearly for each project/workshop/conference presented, and not only in the Human and Social Sciences.


I discussed the difficulty of finding adequate National Coordinating (NC) Teams during the conference in private conversations. 

I was told that I would certainly have considerable difficulty finding an NC Team for the UK.

The reason? The British Educational System (still very hierarchical and traditional) and the NewPOL Network's vision of Education are not compatible. 

Perhaps (..?..) the NewPOL Network is looked upon as a kind of "threat" to the Established Educational Empire or System, and not just in the UK.

As an illustration, a few months ago, a colleague applied for Dutch NC Team Membership. He was accepted. He then wrote to me saying that he had to turn down my offer because of pressure from his own institution. There are quite a few other cases.


Finally, it would save a great deal of time to the World at large and millions of human beings if people at last began to understand the notion of interface. Then they shall be able by themselves not only to reach conclusions very similar to that of the speakers, but they shall be able to go further still and contribute to making the (knowledge) society network a much more exciting and dynamic adventure open to all.


[3 January 2006]

The more the NewPOL Network gains in popularity, the more pressure from The System (i.e. The Educational System + The Social System + The Political System + ...) shall be expected. This is inevitable.

Pressure from the Educational System (representing hundreds of thousands of Institutions throughout the World) shall be particularly strong. These institutions fear to lose their "hold" on society. Many may be worried about their job (as professor/teacher/researcher). Some fear that their years of training may cease to be recognised because not all that useful anymore in a multidisciplinary era. Indeed, a complete and thorough mastery of integrated interdisciplinarity means just ONE "Degree" that "covers" all the others. Now, please just take a look at a typical present day School/University Curriculum...and what do you see? Hundreds of courses [with the equivalent number of specialised staff per level(!)] and hundreds of Degrees: hyperspecialisation and hyperfragmentation!

An enormous budget.

Then what?

If the present Educational System collapses - which seems quite likely if it is not fundamentally rethought - is there an alternative? Yes. Are we ready? No.

Before changing any (educational, social, ...) system, we must first change the thinking paradigm. The NewPOL Network Paradigm (NNP) shall be discussed in depth during the IMIRC.

Not only is the NewPOL Network lobby certainly underestimated but it IS indeed becoming a recognised credible alternative. Europe may be in a period of transition, as for other continents.


European Commission - Conference on “The Quantum Structure of Space and Time”. Brussels 4 December 2005.

What is the origin of the Universe?
Is the Universe finite? Could we fall into a black hole?
Will time travel ever be possible
Marc HENNEAUX (Solvay Institutes and ULB, BE)
David GROSS, 2004 Nobel Laureate (Kavli Institute, USA)
Michael ATIYAH, 1966 Fields Medal (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Robert BROUT, 2004 Wolf Prize (ULB, BE)
François ENGLERT, 2004 Wolf Prize (ULB, BE)
Murray GELL-MANN, 1969 Nobel Laureate (Santa Fe Institute, USA)
Stephen HAWKING, 1988 Wolf Prize (University of Cambridge, UK)
Gerard ’t HOOFT, 1999 Nobel Laureate (Spinoza Institute, NL)
Steven WEINBERG, 1979 Nobel Laureate (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Frank WILCZEK, 2004 Nobel Laureate (MIT, USA)
Shing-Tung YAU, 1982 Fields Medal (Harvard University, USA)


[5 December 2005]

A disappointment, even though there was a good panel/EU Commission effort to communicate a simplified overview of theoretical physics and cosmology to the public.

Many of the announced panel physicists were absent.

Commissioner Busquin said in his opening speech that there was an urgent need for both innovation and researchers in the European Union. 

I would say that we first need to innovate researchers. This implies rethinking Education and The System.

Basic questions and key issues developed during the Conference: 

Can the world be captured in an equation? - Can Nature be reduced to a Standard Model? - Is there a Fundamental Principle? - Extra Dimensions - Expansion of the Universe - Cosmic Background Radiation - Quantum Mechanics versus General Relativity - Quantum Gravity - Space-time Foam - 10 exp-35 m (Planck scale: space and time stop making sense) <---> 10 exp-5 m (Life) <---> 10 exp+25 m (Hubble Scale): the Hierarchy Problem in Physics - Vacuum Fluctuations, Vacuum Energy, Dark Energy and the Cosmological Constant - Black Holes & Hawking Radiation - Law of Electro-Magnetism + Law of Gravity ---> One Theoretical Structure? - Need to change our understanding of The Basic Structure - String theory: no strings have ever been observed, but at least the mathematics make sense here (if the Universe has more than 3 dimensions) as opposed to particle theory - Manifolds - 20 Fundamental Numbers (mass of electron, gravitational force, ...): no one understands why these particular numbers have the particular values that they do. Change their value, change the Universe. String Theory could offer an explanation - Branes - Missing Energy Signals - What we see is maybe not what there is: people may have been fooled for thousands of years - Science is a lot smarter than we are - The understanding of the sub-atomic world is based on a logic, that of quantum mechanics. Why not another? - A more profound explanation of Quantum Mechanics is needed - Maybe there is something underneath Quantum Mechanics - How did the Universe as we know it begin? - In 94 years' time: a formula that explains mathematical concepts?

Public Questions: Fate of black holes - What is the nature of mass? - Proof of the existence of strings? - How do we know that the Universe is infinite? - The reach of gravity beyond dimensions - Can we now build a time machine? - Physics becoming a kind of religion? - Where does the energy come from the Big Bang? - Universe: chance or intelligent design? 


I asked one question: The human being belongs to the Cosmos. So therefore does World Society Well Being and Quality of Life. What is the link?

The reaction of the panel to this deliberately provocative question was instructive. First ignored, a Nobel Prize Winner finally remarked privately: "Far too complex. I wish you luck."  Perhaps such questions are still considered by some as mystical musings. Perhaps some are out of their depth. Whatever the reason, the lack of interest regarding this interface issue in 2005 is somewhat surprising: physicists are also part of the Life Sciences... 

Couldn't the very notion of Identity be an illusion? 

Life seems to lie between the Planck and Hubble Scales. World Society Well Being and Quality of Life are part of the Life Sciences. Apparently, integrating theoretical physics and cosmology to other complex systems like Life and Society on Earth is beyond the reach of present day physics or physicists. Something is missing - or wrong - somewhere... Physics may have to be rethought. 

This question shall precisely be one of the workshop themes for our International Multidisciplinary Interface Research Congress (IMIRC) in China (2008) under the "Network Programme 1: The Physics and Mathematics of the Life Sciences in the Universe" and further developed in PART II. Two panellists have been invited. 


''Communicating European Research CER 2005. Brussels 13 -14 -15 November 2005.




[25 November 2005]

An overall summary of the CER 2005 can be found by checking out the link: What's New.

My general impression was that even though the need to communicate was openly and publicly recognised by Academia and other institutions - this in itself is progress - the "Knowledge Community" is still struggling to find out HOW to communicate. 

"A scientist must also be a good communicator": this was the leitmotiv during the whole conference.

However, should we seek just good actors/speakers with exceptional communication skills for the Gallery, the Media, the Stage (Act I - Scene 1) ...? Or someone who has also fully integrated his/her gifts in everyday life?

I don't care for good talkers/authors who are not what they seem: they only add more confusion and communication problems to society.

"I know his/her work, but I do not know the man/woman..." Please refer to Admissions on the NewPOL Network main web page and you shall understand what I mean.

We are presently witnessing a period of transition. 

There has been a great deal of progress to make a given field of knowledge more accessible/intelligible to children and the general public, but by facilitating fragmentation you are only enforcing the compartmentalised educational structure and limiting the Human Being's potential. Take a look at present day School/University Programs and the number of branches/degrees offered: a caricature of fragmentation. How CAN you expect the Human Being to link the different bits and pieces together??

"Interface" was mentioned during the Opening Ceremony and in Official Reports: the notion is still very new, but is beginning to be used in everyday language.

I took part in many discussions and had to sprint all over the place to see as many people as possible. This was quite a strain and often frustrating. I was not able to listen to many lectures because these were held at the same time. I was not able to discuss interesting issues at length with potential colleagues because there were so many to see. You can't possibly see everyone in two days!

That's the trouble when you are interested in "interfaces": you can deal with just about anything! 

And precisely, this is a key issue. You could have reached the conclusions of many of the lecturers from different fields just by changing your thinking paradigm: the NewPOL Network Paradigm.   

The NewPOL Network has been invited (COST) to give a presentation in 2006 (possibly February) and there were many other useful engagements for the future.

However, we must still find four more National Coordinating Teams.

Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) Conference. Brussels (Belgium) - 15/16 September 2005.

The life sciences and biotechnology are advancing at a breathtaking pace. Our growing genetic knowledge is paving the way for new gene therapies and regenerative personalised medicines, agricultural products, foods and even renewable materials, such as biodegradable plastics.

In recognition of the growing importance of this emerging sector of the bio-economy, the European Commission organised a high-profile conference in Brussels (Belgium) on 15 and 16 September 2005 to chart a course towards a modern knowledge-based bio-economy.

The NewPOL Consortium Network was represented in person by its Principal Coordinator, Professor Vivian R. F. Linssen, Founding Director of the International Multidisciplinary Neuroscience Research Center asbl/vzw.

Please visit The Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy Website.



[19 September 2005]

The KBBE Conference was very instructive by the way the participants tried to articulate the material and presentations together. 

A similar Conference seemed to have been held in China at the same time.

There was a strong emphasis on education, but just what is meant by "education" still seems terribly conventional and fragmented. Facilitating fragmentation shall get us nowhere.

I fear that the European Commission's conception of Education and that of the NewPOL Network are still completely different, even though there are indications of more concrete cross-cutting integrated interdisciplinary approaches to the Life Sciences.

The Commission seems to be quite aware of its difficulties to reach the general public. "Bold changes must be made", said the Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "This takes courage."

Four points:

1. I addressed both the Panel and the European Commission.

I said that I was a little skeptical regarding the impact of the Conference.

The speakers succeeded in conveying this feeling of urgency, spoke of democracy, the need for Europeans (I would add also non-Europeans...) to know what is going on...

Yet, I remarked, there was no International Television, no International Press... At least, this was my first impression. So not many really knew what was going on in the impressive Conference Hall.

I told the Panel and the Commission that the high profile/level conference shall continue to remain in the High Spheres if we did not get the message through to the people, to the general public.

And in order to do so, the link (= interface!) between the Well-Being and Quality of Life of World Society and the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy (KBBE) must be clearly established and made intelligible to all.

This feeling of urgency must be both understood and felt(!) "down to" the elderly lady/child living in a back slum somewhere in Europe, Asia, South/North America, Africa, ...

I am sure you all understand what I mean.

The NewPOL Network does seem to become the Missing Link that is so needed in order to make all initiatives more articulate, coordinated and synchronised.

I have therefore proposed to the Commission that the NewPOL Network serves to create this essential link between a Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy and World Society Well-Being and Quality of Life, thereby also bridging the cultural (and many other) gaps.

You may be interested to know that Christian Patermann, EC, Research DG, Director "Biotechnology, Agriculture and Food", in his final conclusions of the Conference recognised the importance of the linking issue and of World (and not just European) Society.

The notion of interface is slowly but surely making its way... 

2. The UK Presentation: Bioscience and the general lay public.

This is only a personal impression, but shared by many in the assembly. As you know, we are having considerable difficulties with the UK regarding the National Coordinating Teams. I wondered why. There were many possible explanations, but after listening to one of the UK lectures, I thought there may be another reason.

The UK representative claimed that UK Bioscience was the best in the world and had made remarkable achievements. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. According to his view, Science seems to be the All Important and Reference Almighty. 

As I understand, according to the speaker the British Public have certainly the right to be informed, but the hierarchical access to information must be respected: short-circuiting the National Educational Institutions to acquire knowledge would be unthinkable and unacceptable. Science - and more generally Academia - and The People are considered as two different worlds, must remain so and with the former reigning absolutely over the latter. The Public is so educated and conditioned to accept this cleavage. 

But to my mind, Academia and The People form One.

It occurred to me that the British lay public was in fact treated with condescension. So, I asked myself, what of the non British public?

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell's remark last 23rd June 2005 [BBC News] that ""Britain must avoid adopting an attitude of condescension and omniscience to its partners..." seems to have gone completely unheeded.

The National Coordinating Team precisely serves as an interface between the NewPOL Network and the people in order to make knowledge directly accessible to all, irrespective of their social condition or background. This vision seems very different from the existing Educational Systems imposed throughout the world and not only in the UK.

3. Patents.

I can summarise my impression in one phrase: chaos, aggressive competition and growing intellectual frustration.

4. National Coordinating Teams.

I met many people and hope to find volunteers for the last six NC Teams (NB. Four NC Teams as of 12 February 2006). There was even an invitation from the U.S.... If this can lead to the creation of a U.S. NC Team very soon, so much the better.