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Homepage Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Making the European Research Area a Reality
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Graphic element Research > Growth > The European Research Area > A new Framework Programme for the European Research Area (2002-2006)
Graphic element A new Framework Programme for the
European Research Area (2002-2006)
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In just over a year, the European Research Area (ERA) has become the reference framework for research policy in Europe. Proposed by Commissioner Busquin in January 2000, the ERA is now seen as more urgently necessary than ever. While the Member States have a clear responsibility in the implementation of the project, the EU has a specific role to play through its Framework Programme (FP).

(see the Commission's proposals - COM (2001) 94 - 21.2.2001 and COM(2001)279 - 30.05.2001).

Representing a total budget of € 17 500 million (As mentioned in the EC proposal, this amount is still subject to adaptation), up from € 14 960 million under the current Fifth FP, the raison d'etre of the new FP is to help make a reality of the European Research Area. It will be based on the following overriding principles:

  • Focusing on a select number of priority areas in which EU action can add the greatest possible value;
  • Defining activities in such a way as to exert a structuring effect on European research;
  • Simplifying and streamlining the implementation arrangements.

To this end, three main avenues of approach have been laid out:

  • Integrating European research;
  • Structuring the European Research Area;
  • Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area.
Three blocks of activities:

Integrating European research
(total budget € 12 055 million)
Under the objective of 'Integrating European research', priority thematic areas have been defined on the basis of 'European added value'. The thematic areas are:
1) Genomics and biotechnology for health (€ 2 000 million);
2) Information society technologies (€ 3 600 million);
3) Nanotechnologies, intelligent materials and new production processes (€ 1 300 million);
4) Aeronautics and space (€ 1 000 million);
5) Food safety and health risks (€ 600 million);
6) Sustainable development and global change (€ 1 700 million);
7) Citizens and governance in the European knowledge-based society (€ 225 million).

In addition to the seven thematic areas, activities will also be undertaken under an eighth heading:
8) Anticipating the EU's scientific and technological needs (€ 1 630 million).

Structuring the European Research Area
(total budget € 3 050 million)
The second major block of activities under the new FP comprise four categories of activities:
1) Research and innovation (€ 300 million);
2) Human resources and mobility (€ 1 800 million);
3) Research infrastructures (€ 900 million);
4) Science and society (€ 50 million).

Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area (total budget € 450 million)
The new FP will work toward strengthening the foundations of the ERA in two ways:
1) Support for the co-ordination of activities (€ 400 million);
2) Support for the coherent development of policies (€ 50 million).

Activities under the first heading are intended to integrate research efforts and activities and will represent the bulk of the efforts deployed under the FP. Activities under the last two headings are intended to structure various dimensions of the ERA and will therefore be implemented across the whole field of science and technology.

Three instruments

Three main instruments will be used, each corresponding to a type of need in terms of the organisation of research in Europe. The three instruments are:

  • Integrated projects:
    These projects would mobilise resources around precisely defined objectives in terms of products, processes and technical knowledge. The Commission is encouraging large SME involvement. Projects should be flexible enough to allow the addition of further partners and/or tasks as appropriate.
  • Networks of excellence:
    In order to strengthen scientific and technological excellence, better integration of research capacities present in various European regions is crucial. Networks of researchers will be created around a series of key areas to carry out 'common programmes of activities'. Research will be oriented towards long-term objectives rather than precise pre-defined results.
  • EU participation in joint research programmes of Member States:
    The new FP aims to make the most of Member States' research programmes in areas where their common interests coincide with the overall priorities of the EU. Efficiency will be improved through harmonised work programmes, co-ordinated budgets and the launching of joint calls for proposals.

The new FP responds to the research community's repeated calls for simplified management procedures. While still monitored by the Commission, participants will work under fewer constraints, allowing for more flexibility and improved efficiency and for reductions in administrative costs.

Implementation: the Specific Programmes

In May 2001, the Commission presented its proposals for five Specific Programmes for implementing the activities specified above as well as activities in the nuclear field:

  1. Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area:
    Concerned with the two blocks of activities referred to as 'Integrating European research' and 'Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area' (see diagram).
  2. Structuring the European Research Area:
    This would implement the block of activities referred to as 'Structuring the European Research Area'.
  3. Joint Research Centre activities (non nuclear):
    The particular nature of the JRC's activities is considered sufficient to justify a separate Specific Programme.
  4. European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) activities.
  5. Joint Research Centre activities (nuclear)


The new Framework Programme and Growth

Industrial manufacturing research is essential in responding to the pressures of increasing globalisation, growing competition, sustainable development and demands for an improved quality of life. In its proposal for a new FP, the Commission has reaffirmed its support for most of the key research priorities currently funded under the Competitive and Sustainable Growth Programme:

Nanotechnologies, intelligent materials and production processes:
Nanotechnologies offer a new approach to product development with huge economic potential while intelligent materials are essential to achieving the right balance of properties, performance and cost. Finally, new production processes are essential to improved sustainability of development, based on efficient life cycle design. Together these three elements have garnered € 1 300 million in proposed EC funding, around 30% more than under the current Growth key action 1 (production, processes and organization) and generic activity 1 (materials).

Aeronautics and space:
Europe's aims, as reflected in the "Vision for 2020" report of the Group of Personalities, are to consolidate the position of its aerospace industry in the face of increasing global competition and to give European citizens a first-class air transport system which is safe, efficient and environmentally friendly. The new FP would provide € 1 000 million for aeronautics and space research, up from € 700 million under the current Growth key action 4.

Food Safety and health risks and Sustainable development and global change:
The work in these areas will be linked with, though not restricted to, the fundamental issues of 'measurements and testing' as well as those of 'land transport and marine technologies', important areas of research currently funded under the Growth generic activity 1 and key action 3.

Thus, the legacy of the Growth Programme and the spirit of highly co-ordinated and targeted co-operation that it embodies will most assuredly live on.

For further details, see the Commissions proposals:

New FP:
COM (2001)94 21.2.2001
Specific programmes:
COM (2001)279 30.5.2001-08-02

Reactions to the Framework Programme proposal are still being invited.
Comments and suggestions may be sent to:

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