The Research Framework Programme is the European
Union's main financial instrument to support R&D in Europe.
The EU has been using Framework Programmes to support co-operation
between research partners from different countries since 1984.
Framework Programme (FP6) is the EU's latest R&D funding
instrument. It runs from 2002 to 2006 with a total budget of €17,500
million, up 17% on FP5. This accounts for 3.9% of the EU's overall
budget and 6% of the EU's total public spend on research.
How is FP6 different from previous
FP6 represents a deliberate break from previous Framework
Programmes in both ambition and scope. While previous programmes
have succeeded in their goal of developing a culture of scientific
co-operation across Europe and in funding projects that have produced
good results, they have not had a lasting effect on coordinating
European research. FP6 is meant to change this.
The new Framework Programme aims to upgrade European
scientific knowledge, promote innovation and competitiveness, create
sustainable growth and bring about social cohesion. With an increased
budget and a new innovative approach, FP6 will be the main tool
used in the creation of a European
Research Area (ERA). The ERA will lead to the development of
a common science and technology policy across the EU by integrating
existing and future Member States' research capacities.
What are the main priorities
A major innovation with FP6 is the way European researchers
will work together on seven priority research themes in a more integrated
way than before and with streamlined administrative procedures.
The FP6 thematic priorities are:
- Genomics and biotechnology for health
- Information Society technologies
- Nanotechnologies and nanosciences
- Aeronautics and space
- Food safety
- Sustainable development
- Economic and social sciences.
- Cross-cutting activities
- Structuring the ERA
- Strengthening the ERA
What are the new FP6 instruments?
Under FP6, management methods and procedures have
been simplified to promote greater efficiency. Two new instruments
have been put in place:
projects: these are large-scale research activities usually
carried out as public/private partnerships. They will become key
tools in the implementation of the seven priority areas in FP6.
Each project will bring together a critical mass of scientific
and industrial partners in order to meet well-defined goals.
of excellence: as the name suggests, networks of excellence
will bring together specialised researchers from all over Europe
to work on a joint programme of research activities. The aim is
to reinforce and integrate European expertise in certain research
The main rationale for these instruments is
to move from multiple project funding to the funding of coherent
programmes of research activities, giving the highest possible autonomy
and flexibility to European research consortia.
How is FP6 structured?
FP6 is structured around three main blocks
- Integrating research — Forming the
bulk of FP6 work, these projects will be carried out in a limited
number of priority themes, as well as in areas covering a wider
field of research.
- Structuring the ERA — In the words
of Commissioner Busquin, the aim of the ERA is to "contribute
to the creation of better overall framework conditions for research
in Europe". To achieve this goal, FP6 will fund projects
to improve research and innovation, human resources and mobility,
research infrastructures and science and society.
- Strengthening the foundations of the ERA
— The aim here is to strengthen the coordination of research
and innovation activities at national and European level and to
support the development of coherent research and innovation policies
in the EU.
Where does researcher mobility
fit in to FP6?
Mobility of researchers has always been a successful
feature of EU Framework Programmes. However, in the past mobility
was not part of an integrated and ambitious concept as is the case
with FP6. The emphasis on researcher training and mobility has intensified
considerably under the new Framework Programme.
The funds allocated to structured training and mobility
schemes for researchers under FP6 has increased by over 50% compared
with FP5. The Human Resources and Mobility activity has a budget
of €1,580 million representing almost 10% of the overall FP6
Investing in the development of Europe's research personnel by
promoting their mobility is essential to the realisation of the
European Research Area, which means that funding for the Marie Curie
Actions is concentrated in the FP6 block on 'Structuring the ERA'.
The new 'Human Resources and Mobility' activities
in this block are open to researchers of all levels of experience
and all ages from the EU Member States, from the countries associated
with FP6 and from third countries. All fields of scientific and
technological research are covered and, as such, they are driven
by the research proposals submitted by applicants.
They aim at developing and transferring research
competencies, widening researchers' career prospects and promoting
excellence in European research.