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The future competitiveness of Europe's companies, the health and well-being of its population and the security of its environment depend on many factors. Underlying them all, however, is the requirement for world-class research and development to provide the knowledge and technologies that European industry and society need. With a budget of just under 15 billion euros, the Fifth Framework Programme will help generate that knowledge by focusing Europe's considerable research resources on problems which are better tackled at a European level. Projects must include partners from at least two EU Member States, or from one Member State and one of the 16 Associated States(1). Organisations from some 30 other countries also have the right to participate at their own expense, with many able to apply for financial support from other EC programmes dedicated to their region.
Four Thematic Programmes
The Fifth Framework Programme is composed of seven programmes, of which four - the "thematic" programmes - fund R&D to solve problems in four strategically vital areas:
These programmes focus most of their resources on a limited number of key actions, each concentrating on a specific set of social and economic problems and bringing together academia, industry, users, and political and economic decision-makers. In addition, the programmes also fund more generic, longer-term research and support the optimal use and development of Europe's scientific infrastructure.
Three Horizontal Programmes
The thematic programmes are complemented by three "horizontal" programmes, which address issues common to all areas of science and technology.
The Fifth Framework Programme also partly funds the Joint Research Centre (JRC), which provides the EC with independent scientific and technical support for conceiving, implementing and monitoring EU policies.
(1) As Associated States contribute to the Fifth Framework budget, their organisations may receive Community support for their project participation, on the same as EU Member States. They comprise 11 countries preparing to join the EU (Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), the EEA countries (Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and Israel. Switzerland will associate during the Fifth Framework Programme - until then the Swiss authorities supply equivalent funding.