European research on the horizon
With a number of new websites springing up to keep European citizens abreast of developments in the lead up to the EU's next research Framework Programme (FP7), Headlines presents an informal review of what to find where.
Under the title “FP7 approval process begins!”, a list of links to official documents on the EU's EUR-Lex archive is provided, including the Commission's proposals for FP7. Further down the page, it gives a brief outline of the priorities for future EU research policy and the results of the extensive consultation process which the Commission carried out to help shape FP7.
The consultation paved the way for four main objectives on EU research to be forged: namely, to gain leadership in key scientific and technology areas by strengthening European co-operation; to stimulate new ideas, creativity and EU research excellence by funding ‘frontier research' carried out by individual teams at EU level; to develop the people behind European research – human potential, career prospects and researcher mobility – and, lastly, to enhance the research and innovation capacities throughout Europe.
It also highlighted areas in the Framework Programmes where improvements are needed, such as emphasising research themes over the funding ‘instruments' devised to implement them and adding ‘space and security' to the current stable of priority areas. It stressed the need to meet industry needs by drawing on, for example, a new programme for stimulating competitiveness and innovation.
Outside looking in
The ‘Towards FP7' website on the Community's own CORDIS server, which touts itself as the “Gateway to preparations for the Seventh Framework Programme” with all relevant documents and guidelines on offer, provides a good introduction to the Framework Programmes and EU research for newcomers. It has a handy ‘What is FP7?' page and concise ‘FP7 Guidance' notes.
“[Previous] programmes have so far been conceived for a period of five years. FP7, however, is proposed for the period 2007-2013, and will be the successor to the current FP6, which is due to run until the end of 2006. The debate on FP7 has already started and will include negotiations among the European institutions, Member States and stakeholders throughout 2005 and 2006.”
Another website with a useful overview of FP7 from an outsider's perspective is EurActive. It describes itself as the “independent media portal fully dedicated to EU affairs” and, in its ‘Science and Research' section, has an introduction to FP7, plus related news and what comes next on the topic. From this bare bones introduction, the reader can scroll down and learn in more detail the legal background to FP7, about related issues and about its importance to the Lisbon Strategy and the “knowledge for growth” initiative.EU websites