Progress has been – and continues to be – made in reducing fragmentation across the European Research Area and strengthening coordination of national and regional research programmes. FP7 is supporting two main tools to achieve these goals – the ERA-NET scheme and actions under Article 185.
The goal of the ERA-NET
scheme is to develop and strengthen the coordination of national and regional research programmes by:
providing a framework for actors implementing public research programmes to coordinate their activities for example by developing joint activities or by mutually supporting joint calls for transnational proposals (ERA-NET actions)
supporting – in a limited number of cases – joint calls for proposals between national and/or regional programmes by ‘topping up’ joint transnational funding with Community funding, where there is high European added value (ERA-NET Plus)
As a result of the ERA-NET scheme, progress has been made in reducing fragmentation across the European Research Area (ERA) during FP6. More than 1 000 programme owners and managers participate in the 71 ERA-NET actions funded through Coordination Actions, involving hundreds of national research programmes.
Under FP7, however, the ERA-NET scheme is no longer a ‘stand-alone’ action – rather it will be used mainly in the context of the Cooperation specific programme, together with parts of the Capacities programme. New ERA-NET actions will be supported, while existing actions may re-apply to receive support to extend and/or reinforce their integration.
Every year, work programmes will indicate which topics are open for submission of new ERA-NETs or extension of running ones. In addition, where the actions are of a horizontal nature or are not directly linked to the Cooperation themes, they can be submitted under a specific, bottom-up, topic and will be supported jointly across all of the themes.
Actions under Article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) [ex Article 169 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC)] aim at integrating parts of national and regional programmes for implementing jointly, together with the Commission, a real European research programme.
The actions supported here may cover subjects not directly linked to the ten themes in as far as they have a sufficient EU added value. They will also be used to enhance the complementarity and synergy between FP7 and activities carried out under intergovernmental structures such as EUREKA and COST.
For a limited number of European Technology Platforms, the scale and scope of their strategic research agendas and the resources involved justify setting up long-term public-private partnerships in the form of Joint Technology Initiatives. These initiatives will combine private sector investment and/or national and European public funding, including grant funding from the Research Framework Programme and loan finance from the European Investment Bank. Joint Technology Initiatives may be decided on the basis of Article 187 of the Treaty or on the basis of the Specific Programme Decisions in accordance with Article 182 of the Treaty.