Main differences between FP6 and previous research framework programmes:
- Management methods and procedures have been simplified to promote greater efficiency and a lasting impact on the European scientific and technological landscape.
- Priorities have been reduced to focus better on a progressive integration of activities.
- New support instruments have been introduced (networks of excellence (link: Networks of excellence aim at progressively integrating activities of network partners thereby creating "virtual" centres of excellence) and integrated projects (link: Projects of substantial size, designed to help build up the "critical mass" in objective-driven research with clearly defined scientific and technological ambitions and aims), which will give EU activities a bigger impact and bring about a stronger structuring effect on research conducted in Europe. FP6 will make it possible to assemble genuine critical masses of resources, to better co-ordinate national research efforts and to diversify support activities in key areas such as the mobility of researchers, research infrastructures and science and society issues.
- Article 169 of Amsterdam Treaty, i.e. EU's participation in research programmes undertaken by several Member States, has been exploited for the "European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership". EDCTP aims to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines and microbicides against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Previous FPs helped to develop a culture of scientific and technological co-operation between EU countries and they were instrumental in achieving good research results. Nevertheless, to further improve the lasting impact and decrease fragmentation of European Research, FP6 was defined and streamlined with the following objectives:
- to concentrate European efforts on fewer priorities - in particular on areas where co-operation at European level presents clear added value;
- to move towards progressive integration of activities of all relevant participants working at different levels;
- to promote research activities designed to have a lasting, "structuring" impact;
- to support activities that will strengthen Europe's general scientific and technological basis;
- to use the scientific potential of candidate countries to prepare and assist their accession to the EU for the benefit of European science at large.
Focusing and integrating European research - The seven thematic priorities:
In order to focus research on priorities that have the most relevance to Europe's citizens, seven priority themes had been devised through a process of consultation among politicians, experts, and the public:
1. Life sciences, Genomics and Biotechnology for Health;
2. Information Society Technologies
3. Nano-technologies and nano-sciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, new production processes and devices
4. Aeronautics and Space
5. Food Quality and Safety
6. Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems
7. Citizens and Governance in a knowledge-based society
- New and Emerging Science and Technology (NEST)
- Research for policy support
- Specific SME activities
- International Cooperation (INCO)