Johannes Hahn

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Johannes Hahn
JohannesHahnPortrait.jpg
European Commissioner for Regional Policy
Incumbent
Assumed office
9 February 2010
President José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by Paweł Samecki
Personal details
Born (1957-12-02) 2 December 1957 (age 56)
Vienna, Austria
Political party People's Party
Alma mater University of Vienna

Johannes Hahn (born 2 December 1957) is an Austrian politician. He is the European Commissioner for Regional Policy in the second Barroso Commission. He succeeded Benita Ferrero-Waldner as Austria's representative. Hahn is a member of the Österreichische Volkspartei (ÖVP) and the European People's Party (EPP).[1][2] In February 2011, renewed allegations of plagiarism on his doctoral thesis emerged that mirror those of several German politicians including former German Defense Minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Personal details[edit]

Hahn studied at the University of Vienna, where he obtained a Doctorate of philosophy in 1987.[clarification needed] He is married and has one son, who was born in 1988.

Political life[edit]

Johannes Hahn began his political career in the youth organisation of the Austrian People's Party (JVP), where he was chairman of the Vienna group from 1980 to 1985. Following this, he was active in the Austrian Federal Youth Council (ÖBJR) and the General Secretariat of the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP). In 1992 Hahn became Secretary of the Austrian People’s Party in Vienna and, in 1996, he became a member of the City Council in Vienna. After serving as a member of the supervisory board at Novomatic AG, an online gaming and casino management system firm, between 1997–2003, he was appointed CEO in 2003. From 2003 to 2006 he was a city councillor without portfolio. Since 2004 Hahn has been Chairman of the Austrian People's Party in Vienna and, as such, was the party frontrunner in the October 2005 regional elections in which an increase in votes for the ÖVP (and a slight loss in votes for the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ)) made the ÖVP the second strongest party in the regional parliament, with 18 seats. Hahn's appointment to the European Commission meant that he had to resign his position as chairman of the Austrian People's Party in Vienna, as commissioners of Barroso Commission II are not allowed to hold political office nationally, although party membership is permitted.[3]

Minister of Science and Research[edit]

Johannes Hahn was sworn in as Federal Minister of Science and Research on 11 January 2007 (Archived 2 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine), initially as part of the Austrian Federal Government under Gusenbauer until 2008, then from 2 December 2008 as part of the Faymann government, in which he also was Minister of Justice for an interim period until Judge Claudia Bandion-Ortner, who had been nominated by the ÖVP, could be sworn in on 15 January 2009.[4]

"Fachhochschulen" (Universities of Applied Sciences)[edit]

During Hahn's term of office, the National Council of Austria adopted on 4 July 2007 an amendment to the federal public service regulations to the effect that Fachhochschule graduates are to be treated as being equal to university graduates with regard to salary schemes in the Austrian civil service on a federal level, thus giving all graduates of degree programmes at "Fachhochschulen" completely equal status to their university graduate counterparts in the civil service.[5] In addition to this, all students enrolled in Austrian "Fachhochschule" study programmes have been recognised as full members of the Austrian Students' Association (ÖH) since December 2007.[6] In a National Council session on 7 November 2007 the status of "part-time teaching staff" was established as a separate staff category in the University of Applied Sciences Studies Act (FHStG).[7] In April 2008, Hahn announced the first ever budget increase in the history of Austrian "Fachhochschulen". Starting in the academic year 2009/10, all "Fachhochschule" institutions will, unconditionally and without differentiation, receive an average of 13.7 per cent more per university place than was previously the case.[8]

Towards equality[edit]

One of Hahn's aims has been to raise public awareness of the great number of successful women in science and research in Austria by means of the so-called  "Visibility Measures" which were launched in 2008 by the Ministry of Science and Research Archived 10 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine. This included media training and getting the media to focus more on reporting on the scientific activities of women.[9] The 2008 film "Wissenschafterinnen im Film" (“Women Scientists in Film”) and a film script competition on the topic of women scientists in 2009 were intended to widen the range of what film and TV have to offer young women in the form of inspiration and information for planning their future careers.[10] One result of media training measures in 2008 and 2009 was presented on 14 May 2009: a DVD, available online, showing interviews with some of the Austrian women scientists who took part in such measures, more than 100 women in total.[11] The fForte Coaching Programme has been providing project training and personal development programmes for women for several years, which according to Hahn will make a crucial difference to their career opportunities in the fields of technology, natural sciences and social sciences. The range of modules on offer covers self-determination, conflict management, project management, communication and team processes, as well as information events on EU funding programmes.[12] In spring 2009, Hahn gave his personal assessment of these programmes to promote women, finding them very good in part, but stating at the same time that he was not yet satisfied with the results. The special support provided for preparing for the entrance examinations for studying medicine had, however, already shown considerable success. He was hopeful that more progress could be made by means of the composition of appeal commissions.[13] To implement the ministry's own objectives of promoting women, in October 2009 Hahn appointed two women scientists to management positions, for example:  Sabine Ladstaetter, from Carinthia, was appointed the new director of the Austrian Archaeological Institute[dead link] (ÖAI) and Irene Forstner-Mueller was appointed head of the Institute's Cairo branch and its excavations.[14]

Austria as a location for research[edit]

On 28 October 2009 Hahn opened the new Vienna Institute of BioTechnology (VIBT) at the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), following a two-year construction period. This provides a total of 24,000 square metres for the internationally respected work of the Vienna BOKU: for university and private research, development and training. Hahn describes the VIBT as yet another milestone in the development of Vienna as a location for research.[15]   In July 2009 the third phase of GEN-AU, the Austrian genome research programme, was started, funded until 2012 by the Ministry of Science and Research to the amount of 100 million euro. The first two phases comprised 58 projects, giving rise to approximately 350 scientific publications and approximately 30 patents.  Amongst those receiving support within this framework are such well-known names as Giulio Superti-Furga, the molecular biologist Josef Penninger and the biochemist Rudolf Zechner from Graz. In the third phase the focus is on system biology approaches.[16] According to Hahn, GEN-AU has established itself as the engine of Austria's competitiveness in top-level research.[17]   In addition to support for applied and economically oriented research in the field of climate research, Hahn has called for more resources for basic and adaptation research in Austria, which should be independent of financial interests and thus be sustainable.[18]

Promoting young scientists[edit]

In 2007 a young research programme entitled Sparkling Science was started by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research, in which scientists work side by side with young people, who are not just observers but actively take over and work independently on parts of the research. This programme will run until 2017. By autumn 2009 there were already over 100 projects in which scientists and schoolchildren had developed joint research plans, as many as 13,000 schoolchildren had been involved in this scientific work, and Hahn's ministry had invested over eight million euro. Projects ranged from small-scale school projects as part of project weeks, for example, to large-scale research plans at university level.[19] The aim of "Sparkling Science" is to get schoolchildren interested in science and research as early as possible.[20] In 2009 this support programme even enabled schoolchildren at a technical school in Innsbruck and the grammar school Akademisches Gymnasium Innsbruck to publish internationally their own research findings on a basic research topic relating to the composition of the primordial soup. In 2009, Hahn awarded cheques for 5000 euro each to a total of 14 prize-winning projects. Since these school research projects by and large not only have scientific but also economic potential, schools which carry out a "Sparkling Science" project as of 2010 will receive a total of 11 million euro in financial support, calculated over 4 years. Back in December 2007, this research project had initially been launched with a planned annual budget of only one million.[21]

Public relations for science and research[edit]

Amongst other things, in his work Hahn has placed a particular focus on improving public relations for people and institutions working in and around the fields of science and research. Numerous campaigns,  events and projects have promoted “Children's University” projects, the "Sparkling Science" programme, the "Visibility Measures" to raise public awareness of the work done by women scientists, the fForte Coaching Programme, the “Long Night of Research”, as well as various awards, such as the Wittgenstein Prize. Hahn has never tired of reminding the institutions within his remit of their social responsibility. His aim has been to bring more researchers into the public eye and, for example, publicly called upon the Austrian Academy of Sciences to "come out of their ivory tower".[22][23]

The "Long Night of Research" event[edit]

The “Long Night of Research” was re-introduced under Minister Hahn after an interval of several years. He sees this event as an important way to communicate enthusiasm for and information about research and to provide a platform on which researchers can show to the wider public their work and their commitment. At a series of events in November 2009, the number of locations involved increased to 99 and, all in all, there were 570 venues in the towns of Dornbirn, Graz, Innsbruck, Krems/Tulln, Linz, Salzburg and Vienna, attracting a total of 366,000 visitors across the country.[24][25]

Award of Excellence[edit]

In 2008 Hahn created the "Award of Excellence" for the best doctoral theses in Austria, as a way of recognising the work of young scientists and making the public more aware of their activities. In the first year, 30 young scientists were paid tribute to in this way, increasing to 36 in 2009. Each of them received 2,500 euro in prize money. Nominations for these awards were made by the vice-chancellors of Austrian universities. 89 per cent of those receiving the award were recipients of student grants or scholarships and, in 2009, half of these prize-winning theses were written in English.[26][27]

Scientific Book of the Year[edit]

In co-operation with Austrian booksellers, Hahn launched an initiative in autumn 2007 to select the best scientific book of the year,[28] with the aim of improving the image of research by better communicating what it has achieved and what it does.[29] A range of books are nominated by a panel of judges consisting of experts from the fields of science, media, the book trade and media business, educational institutions, libraries, museums and public administration. Voting takes place on the Internet or by means of voting cards available in public libraries.[30]

Wittgenstein Prize[edit]

Hahn has also continued the tradition of awarding the Wittgenstein Prize, a science prize with the highest money value in Austria, which attracts a great deal of media attention. He has referred to this prize as the “Austro-Nobel Prize”, pointing out that the prize money of 1.5 million euro is tied to research activities in the following six years, thus ensuring a focussed investment in future research work on the basis of excellence.[31]

International relations[edit]

Membership of ESO[edit]

Astronomers have been calling for Austria to join the European Southern Observatory (ESO) for over thirty years, as international co-operation is necessary for the construction and use of large telescopes, but they repeatedly failed in their efforts due to a lack of understanding for basic research within Austrian politics. It was only with Hahn as Minister of Science that Austria could finally become, on 1 July 2008, the 14th member of this research association, which was founded in 1962.[32] Following his decision in April 2008, Hahn himself stated that joining ESO had been one of the most significant political decisions in the field of research for 20 years, from which not only astronomers but also physicists, mathematicians, software specialists and high-tech companies would benefit.[33] At the beginning of 2009, contracts had been formulated that will benefit Austrian scientists to the total  amount of 5 million euro.[34] According to Sabine Schindler, Head of the Astro- and Particle Physics Institute at the University of Innsbruck, a veritable boom has established itself in the field of astronomy, which will certainly continue for ten to twenty years.[35]

International exchange[edit]

In the field of science Austria maintains close relations with China, one of the rising stars in the world of science, in particular with Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the leading universities in China. Hahn emphasised the importance of this partnership during a visit in September 2009. In fact Austria is the European country most closely connected with Fudan University, with 26 partnerships, a level of co-operation only exceeded by USA and Japan.[36]

Withdrawing from the CERN project[edit]

During a parliamentary sub-committee debate on the Austrian science and research budget for 2009 and 2010, Minister Hahn announced in May 2009 that he wanted to end Austria’s 50-year membership of CERN as of 2010 because the costs were too high. The 16 million euro annual membership fee tied to the CERN project as much as 70 per cent of the total Austrian resources available for membership of research associations and, according to Hahn, blocked more promising forms of research co-operation that would be essential for strengthening Austria’'s profile and presence on the international stage, as well as its competitiveness. It would be important for the future to participate in projects in the fields of social and human sciences, life and medical sciences, material sciences, as well as physics and astronomy.[37] Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann publicly spoke out against a withdrawal from CERN.[38] In any case, an actual withdrawal would have also required a decision of the National Council.[39]

Science and art[edit]

In autumn 2009, Hahn launched a new programme, “forMuse”, to support research in and on museums and made two million euro available for that purpose. In a first stage, this financed eleven of the 82 projects submitted. According to Hahn, the focus is initially to be placed on projects from the “big museums”, such as the anthropological collection in the Vienna Natural History Museum, a study on copper corrosion in manuscripts by the Austrian National Library, or the expropriation of motor vehicles under the Nazi regime by the Vienna Technical Museum. Smaller projects will be the focus of a second stage in the programme.[40]   Due to the water damage in early summer 2009 that affected the Vienna Albertina, parts of the Albertina collection of prints and drawings were returned to the Academy of Fine Arts, an emergency measure on the part of the Academy after the Albertina storage depot had to be evacuated. A room in the library of the Academy was equipped with storage facilities to house the collection and alarm systems were fitted. Hahn contributed 35,000 euro towards this adaptation from the newly created ministerial reserve funds.[41] In the meantime, the art works have been returned to the underground storage facilities of the Albertina.[42]

Financial support for students 2007–2009[edit]

During Hahn’s term of office, two amendments to the Law on Financial Support for Students were adopted (in 2007 and 2008), with a budgetary volume of 25 million euro in additional costs per year for financial support for students. The total budget in the Ministry of Science for student financial support is 199.5 million euro (based on 2008 figures) and 49,500 student grants were approved in the academic year 2008/09. Expenditure on financial support for students has increased from 105 million to almost 200 million euro since 2000.   Specifically, this means that student grants were increased in 2007 by 12 per cent (maximum monthly grant 679 euro). In 2008 the limit on the amount that anyone receiving a student grant could earn in addition to their grant was raised to 8000 euro; the parental income level was raised by 20 per cent; study grants for students with children were increased (i.e. by raising age limits and a supplementary payment of 720 euro for each child); there were improvements for disabled students, as well as mobility grants – a complete course of study abroad was financed for the first time. In 2009 there was an increase of 33 per cent in performance-related grants (i.e. a further 2 million euro, or 2,800 more grants).[43][44][45][46][47][48][49]

Financing research[edit]

Following uncertainty regarding the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) budget in spring 2009, in autumn of the same year Hahn proposed introducing legislation on research financing that would regulate by law the budget for state expenditure on research until 2020. Public expenditure on research and development would increase by 2.5 million to 5 million per year by 2020, thus building confidence and developing and consolidating Austria as a research location.[50] Hahn particularly emphasised the importance of making a combined effort on all fronts, including the integration of educational policy, since education and training constitute the main pre-requisites of a competitive research location.[51]

European Commissioner for Regional Policy[edit]

In November 2009 he was nominated by the Austrian Federal Government as member of the European Commission. President Barroso appointed him European Commissioner for Regional Policy.[52] He was twice appointed Acting Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship in Viviane Reding's stead, from 19 April 2014 – 25 May 2014 while she was on electoral campaign leave for the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and from 1 July 2014 – present after she took up her seat.[53][54]

Discussion about his PhD thesis[edit]

In May 2007 media scholar Stefan Weber accused Hahn of "absolutely sloppy" work regarding his PhD thesis, and claims that Hahn copied numerous pages from other books without citing them correctly.[55] The suspected plagiarism was not confirmed by an expert committee from the University of Zurich that looked into the matter.[56] However, according to Herbert Hrachovec, professor of philosophy at Vienna University, the Swiss experts only evaluated a small part of Hahn's dissertation.[57] In June 2009 Hrachovec published an evaluation of the first hundred pages of the paper and claims that the paper contains dozens of uncited paragraphs, which question the assessability of the dissertation.[58] The University of Vienna looked into the matter but decided not to start an examination procedure, saying that Hahn never presented "other people's intellectual property" as his own.[59]

In February 2011 Green parliamentarian Peter Pilz commissioned Stefan Weber to re-assess Hahn's PhD thesis.[60] End of May, the expert group published its findings, listing 76 cases of plagiarism, which together account for at least 17.2% of Hahn's 254-page doctoral thesis. Hahn denied the charges and claimed they were "politically motivated, hardly surprising and not relevant."[61][62]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Barroso gets new EU Commission team", BBC News, 25 November 2009; Retrieved 28 November 2009
  2. ^ "Barroso II: 13 EPP Commissioners receive key portfolios", European People's Party, 27 November 2009; Retrieved 28 November 2009
  3. ^ EU: Hahn darf nicht Wiener ÖVP leiten Kurier 28 October 2009.
  4. ^ EU's new regional chief: Europe can prove 'added value' EurActiv.com. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  5. ^ Beamte: FH-Absolventen Akademikern gleichgestellt Die Presse 5 July 2007.
  6. ^ ÖH-Wahl: Fachhochschulen feiern Premiere Die Presse 25 February 2009.
  7. ^ FHK Verhandlungen erfolgreich Österreichische Fachhochschulkonferenz Retrieved November 2007.
  8. ^ Bundesförderung: Mehr Geld für Fachhochschulen Die Presse 14 September 2008.
  9. ^ Wissenschaftlerin im Film: Nur mit strenger Frisur und Brille Die Presse 18 November 2008.
  10. ^ Drehbuchwettbewerb "Wissenschafterin im Film – dieangewandte.at Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien. 17 March 2009.
  11. ^ Wissenschafterinnen sichtbar machen CeiberWeiber – Frauen Online Magazin. 14 May 2009.
  12. ^ Coaching für Wissenschafterinnen Computerwelt. 16 June 2009.
  13. ^ Pressedienst Parlament – Hahn: Keine Einsparungen im Wissenschafts- und Forschungsbericht Sitzung des Wissenschaftsausschusses. 18 February 2009.
  14. ^ Sabine Ladstätter und Irene Forstner-Müller für Österreichs Archäologie frauen-business.at – Das Wirtschaftsmagazin für Frauen. 1 October 2009.
  15. ^ Vienna Institute of Bio Technology eröffnet Der Standard. 29 October 2009.
  16. ^ Genetische Grundlagen der Gesundheit Der Standard. 21 July 2009.
  17. ^ Endspurt für das österreichische Genomforschungsprogramm Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft mbH (FFG). 17 July 2009.
  18. ^ Klimaschutz: Mehr Grundlagenforschung gefordert Die Presse. 21 August 2009.
  19. ^ Wenn der Funke auf die Jungen überspringt Die Presse. 29 November 2009.
  20. ^ Aktion: Emotionale Betroffenheit integrieren Die Presse. 10 May 2009.
  21. ^ Die prickelnden Seiten einer Fachzeitschrift Der Standard. 1 December 2009.
  22. ^ Raus aus dem Elfenbeinturm Der Standard. 30 June 2009.
  23. ^ Feuerwerke für die Forschung Der Standard. 5 February 2008
  24. ^ Dritte lange Nacht der Forschung bricht alle Rekorde APA-OTS. 2 November 2009.
  25. ^ Rekordbesuch bei Langer Nacht der Forschung Der Standard. 8 November 2009.
  26. ^ Award of Excellence für 36 Dissertationen Der Standard. 2 December 2009.
  27. ^ Neue Auszeichnung für Dissertationen Die Presse. 10 September 2009.
  28. ^ Gesucht: das beste Wissenschaftsbuch des Jahres ORF. 1 February 2008.
  29. ^ Die Idee zur Aktion – Woche des Wissens[dead link]. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
  30. ^ Die Jury – Woche des Wissens[dead link]. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
  31. ^ Zwei Weltspitzenforscher Der Standard. 19 October 2009.
  32. ^ Astronomie: In den Süde, zu den Sternen Die Presse 23 April 2008.
  33. ^ Wissenschafter freuen sich über ESO-Beitritt Die Presse 24 April 2009.
  34. ^ Hochleistungsrechner für Wiener Astronomen Der Standard 21 January 2009.
  35. ^ Der Blick nach oben boomt Der Standard 2 July 2008.
  36. ^ Asiatische Connection Der Standard 29 September 2009.
  37. ^ press release 7 May 2009.
  38. ^ Faymann sagt Nein zum Ausstieg. Retrieved 18 May 2009
  39. ^ Die Presse: Österreich steigt beim CERN aus (letzter Absatz). 7 May 2009. Retrieved 25 October 2009.
  40. ^ forMuse: Forschung in und über Museen Der Standard. 27 October 2009.
  41. ^ Akademie holt sich Werke aus Albertina zurück Die Presse 23 July 2009.
  42. ^ Kunstwert-Rücklagerung abgeschlossen Der Standard 15 December 2009.
  43. ^ Reaktionen: ÖH zufrieden – Für SPÖ und Opposition zu wenig Der Standard 13 July 2007.
  44. ^ Studienbeihilfen werden erhöht Der Standard 13 December 2007.
  45. ^ Wissenschaftsminister präsentiert Modell: Absage an Blasmusik & Co Der Standard 2008-02-10.
  46. ^ Wir fördern jährlich 300 neue Plätze Der Standard 19 December 2008.
  47. ^ ÖH Uni Graz: Regelung rechtswidrig Der Standard 6 February 2009.
  48. ^ Mehr Studienbeihilfe-Bezieher ab Herbst 2008 Die Presse 2007-10-22.
  49. ^ Höhere Stipendien und Studienchecker Die Presse 28 September 2008.
  50. ^ Hahn: Forschung ist ein scheues Reh Der Standard 2009-08-27.
  51. ^ Hahn wünscht sich breite Diskussion über Forschungsstrategie Der Standard 20 May 2009.
  52. ^ Austria nominates johannes Hahn as commissioner Europolitics. 28 October 2009.
  53. ^ EU Observer – Six Commissioners Head for EU Election Campaign Trail
  54. ^ KUNA – Barroso announces caretaker replacements following resignation of 4 EU Commissioners
  55. ^ Abgeschrieben? Debatte über Hahns Doktorarbeit – Zitierregeln damals noch anders? ORF 24 May 2007.
  56. ^ Newspaper of the University of Vienna – online: Hahns Dissertation ist „nicht plagiatsverdächtig“. 11 June 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2010
  57. ^ Die Begutachtungsfrist und der Minister Herbert Hrachovec. 14 August 2008, Retrieved 5 January 2010
    a) tabulation of critical sections [1]
    b) direct comparison of selected paragraphs of Hahn's work with those of the original authors: [2], [3]
  58. ^ Evalutation report regarding Hahn's dissertation by Herbert Hrachovec, html-document Herbert Hrachovec. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010
  59. ^ Nicht gerupft, sondern mit neuen Federn oe24.at. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010
  60. ^ Hahns Doktorarbeit wieder auf Prüfstand. In: kurier.at, 22 February 2011, Retrieved 23 February 2011
  61. ^ Gutachten: Johannes Hahn hat sich Doktortitel "erschlichen". In: DerStandard.at, 23 May 2011, Retrieved 27 May 2011
  62. ^ Austrian commissioner faces plagiarism accusations. In: Euractiv.com, 26 May 2011, Retrieved 27 May 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Benita Ferrero-Waldner
Austrian European Commissioner
2010–present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Paweł Samecki
European Commissioner for Regional Policy
2010–present