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Energy research is generally carried out under the terms of the European Treaties. It is needed to support a wide range of EU policies. In particular nuclear research plays a key part in the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).
The Treaty of Amsterdam set out a full chapter on research and technological development (RTD). In particular, the EC is given responsibility for the following research activities:
The Euratom treaty (Titles I and II) expresses the key role of nuclear research in the Community very clearly. In particular, the EC is given responsibility for:
Who decides EU Energy Research Policy?
The European institutions together decide on the Framework Programmes for research as set out in the European Treaties.
The multi-annual Framework Programme is the main means for implementing European research policy. It helps organise and fund co-operation between universities, research centres and industries – including small and medium-sized enterprises.
The scientific and technological objectives are set out in each of the Programmes, and they indicate the broad lines of the activities needed to meet these objectives. Within this framework, specific programmes are then defined which provide further details of the types of research activity that will be supported financially.
The Current Framework Programme (FP6)
Research into nuclear fission, radiation protection and fusion energy is dealt with under the Sixth EURATOM Framework Programme.
The European Research Area
The challenge of overcoming the current fragmentation of Europe’s research efforts has now been taken up. Progress towards a European Research Area (ERA) is now the reference point for research policy issues in Europe.
The establishment of the European Research Area is one of the key objectives of FP6. Currently, research efforts in Europe are too fragmented and funding is below that of the EU's main competitors. While there is now a 'common market' for goods and services in the EU, there is not yet a common 'market' for research. That is the aim of the European Research Area.
Those parties currently committed towards the creation of a European Research Area include the European:
A co-ordinated and determined effort to increase and better organise the European research effort is needed if Europe is to take full advantage of the potential offered by the transition to a knowledge-based economy and society.
The realisation of a European Research Area should: