Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

Two European Commissioners Named OSA Advocates of Optics

Neelie Kroes of the Netherlands and Antonio Tajani of Italy recognized for their public policy efforts to promote optics and photonics

BRUSSELLS, March 28 – The Optical Society (OSA) today presented its 2012 Advocate of Optics recognition to European Commissioners Neelie Kroes of the Netherlands and Antonio Tajani of Italy. OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan presented the honor to Kroes at the General Assembly meeting of Photonics 21 and to Tajani during a special presentation at European Commission headquarters. The pair was recognized for their efforts in making photonics part of the “Key Enabling Technologies” (KETs) in the European Union.

“Through their leadership and vision, Vice Presidents Kroes and Tajani have recognized that optics and photonics is a key technology needed for continued success in the European Union,” said Elizabeth Rogan. “They understand the vital role that science, and in particular optics, has had in advancing innovation and in growing the global economy.”

The KETs, which include nanotechnology, advanced materials, and biotechnology, in addition to photonics were identified by the European Commission as technologies that will strengthen European industry and innovation.  The KETs were originally identified by the Commission in 2009, and in 2010 the Commission established a High Level Expert Group – led by Kroes and Tajani – tasked with developing a long-term strategy and action plan for implementing the KETs.

Kroes is the vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda in Europe – which has jurisdiction over the information and communications technology and telecommunications sectors. She has held the post since 2010. Kroes began her political career by serving on a city council and then the Dutch Parliament. She also served as president of Nyenrode University from 1991-2000, during which time she participated on numerous company boards, including Lucent Technologies.

Tajani is the vice president of the European Commission for industry and entrepreneurship, and has served in European politics for two decades. Tajani served in the Italian military and worked as a journalist before entering politics. He worked as Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s spokesman in the mid-1990s and was appointed Italy’s EU Commissioner in 2008.

To be recognized as an OSA Advocate of Optics, a public official must have a record consistent with his or her support of science, optics and photonics and be an enthusiastic advocate for science policy issues, with particular regard for the advancement of the science of light. A list of past Advocate of Optics recipients is available on OSA’s website.

About OSA

Uniting more than 130,000 professionals from 175 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit


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