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
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
- Integrating European research;
- Structuring the European Research Area;
- Strengthening the foundations of the European
|Three blocks of activities:
(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).
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 (€
2) Human resources and mobility
(€ 1 800 million);
3) Research infrastructures
(€ 900 million);
4) Science and society (€
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 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
- 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
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:
- 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).
- Structuring the European Research Area:
This would implement the block of activities referred to as 'Structuring
the European Research Area'.
- Joint Research Centre activities (non nuclear):
The particular nature of the JRC's activities is considered sufficient
to justify a separate Specific Programme.
- European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) activities.
- Joint Research Centre activities (nuclear)
TO VIEW THE DIAGRAM]
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
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
COM (2001)94 21.2.2001
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: