At an important juncture for EU research policy, this month saw the inauguration of the UK Presidency's R&D and innovation portal. Top billing on the Union's research agenda during Britain's six-month stint at the helm goes to the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7).
The United Kingdom took over the Union's rotating presidency from Luxembourg on 1 July 2005 and will hold it for the coming six months, until the end of December. “We will look to deliver progress across the EU agenda by running an effective, impartial and business-like EU Presidency,” said the UK's Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Science and Innovation David Sainsbury.
|The UK Presidency will focus on fleshing out FP7.|
© European Commission
On the science and technology front, Lord Sainsbury noted that: “The agenda on research and innovation during the UK Presidency will be dominated by negotiations on FP7 for supporting research and technological development, which is due to run from 2007-2013.”
The Commission's proposal for FP7 was launched during the Luxembourg presidency, which has mediated the initial discussion among Member States. According to the proposal, FP7 is set to become bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor, the current FP6 (2002-2006).
If given the green light by Member States, FP7 will have nearly €65 billion at its disposal. The proposed budget is double the current annual spending in FP6.
FP7 revolves around four specific programmes: co-operation, ideas, people and capacities; and nine themes. It places more of an emphasis on research that enhances European competitiveness – through technology platforms and other public-private partnerships – and on themes rather than instruments. FP7 would represent a tenth of total public R&D spending across the EU, and should help inch the Union closer to its target of investing 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in research.
Also on the UK's research and innovation agenda is the proposed Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Space Programme (ESP).
Window on research
The UK Presidency's R&D and Innovation Information Service – which came on-line on 1 July with the hand-over of the EU presidency – was developed jointly by the UK's Department of Trade and Industry and CORDIS, one of the EU's research and innovation information services.
It will provide a window on the UK presidency's efforts in this field of vital importance to European competitiveness and prosperity. Visitors will be able to read the latest news and press releases, and find out about R&D and innovation events across Europe.
The website also provides insight into the Presidency's research and innovation priorities, as well as the UK's own R&D and innovation policies. This portal also contains a wealth of links to other important web resources, both at national and Union level.
The European Commission is also organising a number of R&D-related events over the next six months, including a major conference on the knowledge-based bio-economy on 15-16 September 2005, and an international conference on communicating European research on 14-15 November 2005.