While the primary aim of the Sixth
Framework Programme (FP6) is to foster an integrated approach to research
and technological development (RTD) within a European Research Area (ERA),
the global nature of many of the issues to be faced demands co-operation
on a world scale. FP6 removes all restrictions on participation by the
EU applicant countries, supports the mobility of researchers, and encourages
the formation of broader international alliances.
research programmes have progressed from a national focus, through EU-wide
integration, to addressing the challenges of globalisation. Encouraging
external participation in European research was already a priority under
FP5. From the earliest days, it treated the EU applicant countries as
equals to the Member States with regard to project funding. Organisations
from other associated states, such as the EFTA/EEA countries, Israel and
Switzerland, were also able to benefit from EU funding. European research
collaboration has thus embraced the scientific communities of 30 countries.
for candidate countries
A significant difference
under FP6 is that the associated candidate countries will be able
to form consortia without the previous requirement for involvement
of at least one existing Member State.
Other European states, countries of the former
Soviet Union and various Mediterranean partners also participated
in FP5, but on a project-by-project basis in conformity with the
interests of the Community and without Community funding. In addition,
organisations from countries that have signed a Scientific-Technological
Co-operation Agreement with the EU could join individual projects
for which their particular skills or resources were appropriate,
but again without Community funding. These have included Argentina,
Australia, Canada, China, South Africa and the USA. Chile is another
recent signatory – and discussions are proceeding with the
Latin American and ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries.
||Role in IMS
The Intelligent Manufacturing
Systems (IMS) initiative, an international research and development
collaboration scheme aimed at addressing manufacturing challenges
in the 21st century, provides a framework within which industrial
and academic players can identify RTD issues and potential research
partners worldwide so that they can carry out collaborative projects,
conduct broad-based technology trials and set up networks.
Initially, Australia, Canada, Japan, Switzerland
and the USA agreed to participate in IMS. The European Community
joined in 1997, along with Norway. Korea followed in 2000. Since
1995, a total of 40 active projects have been launched, representing
an international commitment of around € 500 million and an
involvement of 850 companies and research organisations beyond the
A European IMS Secretariat, jointly supported
by the FP5 GROWTH and IST Programmes, was set up to help industries
and research organisation to participate in IMS and benefit by a
possible funding from these two Programmes.
More information on IMS can be found at: http://cordis.europa.eu/ims/home.html
in which the partners established in third countries can be funded
by their respective national bodies, requires the prior establishment
of specific Implementation Agreements. As a result of one such arrangement
for scientific and technological co-operation between the European
Community and the US Government, GROWTH entered into an agreement
with the US National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of materials
This has enabled selected US researchers to
join European consortia as participants in European Commission-funded
RTD activities under GROWTH’s generic activity on materials,
with the NSF providing support for US participants.
Signed in December 1999, this EU-US agreement
allowed the GROWTH Programme to launch three joint calls: 70 proposals
involving EU-US partners were received, compared with just three
American participations in FP4 materials research projects. One
more valuable outcome of the collaboration has been the ability
for leading scientists in the field of nanotechnology to meet for
fruitful exchanges of news and views in a series of joint EC-NSF
workshops organised on both sides of the Atlantic. This will remain
an important area for collaboration under priority area 3 (Nanotechnologies
and nano-sciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, new
production processes and devices) of FP6.
Negotiations are currently underway for the
signing of further Implementation Agreements with Russia and China.
Increasing the involvement
of scientists and technologists from applicant countries is another
prerequisite to making the idea of ERA a reality. Mobility programmes
have figured among the successful activities of past framework programmes
– but they will now become part of a more integrated overall
FP6 will not limit movements to doctoral or
post-doctoral students. It will be open to applicants from third
countries – and, in order to counteract the ‘brain drain’,
will actively promote the return to Europe of European scientists
working abroad. Furthermore, institutions will be able to apply
for funds to host foreign researchers, as will individual scientists
seeking to work outside their own countries.
This commitment to promotion of the mobility
of human resources is based on the fact that, given the growing
complexity and interdependence of modern scientific disciplines,
researchers will increasingly need a strong international component
in their scientific pedigrees.
As part of the process, a website will be set up to promote equal
job opportunities for researchers in the east of Europe. Efforts
are also being made to tackle the structural problems that have
so far raised obstacles to mobility – including salary, social
security and taxation differentials, as well as the inherent insularity
of national systems.
Making Europe an attractive place to conduct
research, and a valued contributor in the sharing of results, is
vital to achievement of the ambitious goals of FP6.