Chemistry has no nationality
As the UK begins the process to leave the European Union, maintaining strong links to the European chemical sciences community is crucial. “As our president, Professor Sir John Holman, said recently: chemistry has no nationality,” says Dr Parker. “UK chemical scientists are proud members of an international scientific community and we will always recognise, celebrate and contribute to that endeavour. This congress is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the strength of the contribution from geographical Europe, and for European chemists to connect with other researchers from Europe and across the world."
“Our goal is that the congress will support the advancement of scientific knowledge, bring together members of the scientific community from diverse backgrounds and specialisms, support the next generation of European scientists and strengthen the collective voice of European scientists. We look forward to welcoming colleagues from mainland Europe and beyond.”
The Royal Society of Chemistry has been, from the very beginning, at the heart of EuCheMS and has always provided full support to its initiatives
Professor Cole-Hamilton adds: “I think it becomes more important because, as we leave the European Union, the influence the UK can have over what happens in the rest of Europe will become much less. Yet at the same time what happens in mainland Europe will affect the UK, whether we like it or not.”
In July 2017, EuCheMS published an advice paper for the European Commission Brexit negotiators, outlining the advantages of UK involvement in Horizon 2020 and other framework programmes.
“The Royal Society of Chemistry has been, from the very beginning, at the heart of EuCheMS and has always provided full support to its initiatives,” says Professor Pilar Goya Laza, research professor of the Spanish Research Council at the Instituto de Química Médica, who this month, takes over from Prof Cole-Hamilton as EuCheMS president. “In light of Brexit, it will be even more necessary to strengthen the links between both organisations. EuCheMS being extremely concerned about this matter, has issued a consensus position paper, ‘Research and Education Without Borders After Brexit’. This statement has been endorsed by the majority of our affiliate chemical societies including some of our supporting members such as the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry.”
“This is a major indication of support and solidarity for the UK from EuCheMS at this difficult time,” says Professor Cole-Hamilton. The paper, signed by 21 presidents of EuCheMS member societies, or their representatives, concludes with the statement: ‘EU scientists urge the negotiators to retain as strong as possible a relationship between EU and UK researchers. Continued collaboration without borders will improve research across all European countries for the benefit of mankind.’
Raising the voice of the chemical science community
Professor Cole-Hamilton has been EuCheMS president since 2014 and has led the association’s involvement in a number of high profile activities. Through our membership of EuCheMS, the Royal Society of Chemistry has been able to influence a variety of issues affecting the chemical sciences. In 2015, EuCheMS successfully campaigned to ensure the European Commission continued to have access to sound scientific advice, through the establishment of the High Level Group of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. They also advocated the position that the European Parliament eventually took for the Paris Agreement on climate change and have ensured the chemical sciences are represented on the EU high-level commission on Open Science and the European Commission Circular Economy Missions.
EuCheMS have also campaigned strongly for the destruction and banning of chemical weapons, working with the Israeli Chemical Society (a EuCheMS member society) and Israeli government to encourage Israel to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. At the EuCheMS congress in Seville in 2016, EuCheMS member societies signed a declaration deploring the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon in the Syrian conflict.
“I do believe that over the last few years the profile of EuCheMS in Europe has increased dramatically, and I think that's important for the UK at this time,” says Professor Cole-Hamilton. “EuCheMS as a European body is a possible method, in the area of chemistry, for the Royal Society of Chemistry to have some influence over what's going on – indirect, but at least a way that their ideas and suggestions can be channelled to the people in the commission and the parliament.”
Commitment to European chemistry
As a UK scientist, Professor Cole-Hamilton is excited to see the congress hosted in the UK. “I think it's fantastic. First, it shows the commitment of the UK to the European chemical community, which I think is very, very important. And it shows the commitment of the European chemical community to the UK because they voted to hold it in Liverpool – selection of the venue is by a vote of the executive board, which is representative of the whole of Europe.”
“In line with other EuCheMS chemistry congresses, the 7th EuCheMS Chemistry Congress is going to be a most exceptional celebration”, says Professor Goya Laza. “The programme and so many other exciting activities are being organised by a fantastic team at the Royal Society of Chemistry who are doing their very best to make the Liverpool congress a great success. The fact that so many European and worldwide chemists will be meeting precisely in Liverpool can be regarded as a symbol of the close links that exist between UK and EU researchers that everyone hopes will remain after Brexit.”