Important legal notices
Contact   |   Search   

Information on current and previous EU research activities

Menu above created with UDM - used by kind permission of the author

Research Themes in FP7


The European Commission is undertaking a process to identify thematic domains for future European support under the 7th Framework Programme. It is essential to identify those domains where support at European level is most needed and will have the greatest impact, as set out in the Communication Science and Technology, the key to Europe’s future — Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research. This concerns support where thematic domains will be predetermined at the start of the Framework Programmes. This is particularly important for future support to transnational collaborative research.

The thematic domains to be identified will cover an area of research in which a range of research projects and networks should be supported in the medium term and allow sufficient flexibility to take into account scientific, industrial and policy developments during the period of the 7th Framework Programme.  The Commission wishes to identify thematic domains which should continue from the Sixth Framework Programme as well as new and emerging ones (including those in the two new areas of space and security which are described in the Commission Communication). A full list of thematic domains under the current priorities can be found in the Annex I to the Decisions on the Sixth Framework of the European Commission and of Euratom.

The Commission will present a list of thematic domains for future European Union support to research when it presents the proposal for the 7th Framework Programme, due in 2005.

Criteria to identify thematic domains

The Commission is using the following three criteria in order to identify which thematic domains will be included in the proposal for the 7th Framework Programme.

1. Contribution to EU policy objectives

The research in the thematic domain must generate new knowledge to meet societal needs and catalyse the delivery of a European policy objective(s), including the objective to transform Europe into a dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy, capable of sustainable economic growth. Relevant policy objectives include those in the areas of health, consumer protection, energy, the environment, development aid, agriculture and fisheries, biotechnology, information and communication technologies, transport, education and training, employment, social affairs, economic cohesion, justice and home affairs. The thematic domain may be one of current importance or likely to become important in the medium to long term.

To be assessed through: research needs stemming from EU Treaties and policy commitments; analysis of market prospects and competitive position of EU industries; future needs identified in Foresight and similar exercises; views from the research community and industry.

2. European research potential

The thematic domain must be one where there is a strong potential for excellent research and technological development and for disseminating and converting the results into social and economic benefits. For example  future support should, wherever possible, build on past and current investments and successes in relevant areas of research and its application.

To be assessed through: analysis of past investments, experience and successes in the Framework Programme; international comparisons of European research performance; views from the research community and industry.

3. European added value

There must be a strong need for additional public funding and for such intervention to be at a European level. 

  • Additional public funding to be justified by the externalities and wider benefits from the research and by the need to attract increased public and private investments.

  • European level intervention to be justified by the need for European centres of excellence through collaborative research: to create the necessary multi-disciplinarity and critical mass of scale and scope; to overcome fragmentation and unnecessary duplication, lack of connections and of interoperability; to complement other intergovernmental, national and private actions; to address shared or European level problems; or to enhance visibility of European research excellence.  

To be assessed through: analysis of levels and impact of current public support available in the Europe Union  and its Member States and in comparison with other countries; views from the research community and industry.

Consultation results

The Commission welcomes contributions to the debate on identifying future thematic domains from the research community and users of research, including: research organisations and associations; industrial and sector associations; individual universities, enterprises and research institutes; and all individuals and groups with an interest in research.

  • A range of activities, fora, and documents are available which relate to the identification of future European research priorities in defined thematic areas of research. (See sidebar for links to relevant fora.)These thematic activities follow on from the general consultation on the guidelines for future European Union policy to support research which was undertaken from July to October 2004.
  • A general consultation on research themes was undertaken with a deadline of 31 December 2004. The Commission is analysing the contributions received as part of its preparations for the proposal for the 7th Framework Programme.

A report on the contributions received is available here:

Further information

Future European Union research policy

Relevant thematic fora and information sources






last update: 04/01/05