The Commission continued the exchanges of information on national RTD policies within the specific ad hoc committees. In February 1998 a second seminar with the rapporteurs of the ad hoc committees provided an opportunity for a more detailed exchange of experience and to take account of the conclusions of the Scientific and Technical Research Committee (CREST). To back this up, specific measures were taken on issues such as the internationalisation of research and technology, transnational cooperation within the national RTD programmes and multilateral public research schemes in Europe.
Based on the analysis by the Commission, CREST adopted positions on the 1997 reports from the ad hoc committees and, more broadly, on conduct of the exercise under the 4th Framework Programme and on the direction to be taken in the 5th Framework Programme.17 CREST concluded that between 1996 and 1998 the exercise had developed in the right direction and, in particular, that several ad hoc committees had capitalised on the opportunities available for successful coordination measures. Nevertheless, a number of weaknesses remain to be overcome in the 5th Framework Programme. CREST and the Commission therefore recommended that the exercise should continue, but taking account of the characteristics of the new Framework Programme and of the lessons drawn from the experience gained. Framework conditions were defined with this in mind.
In addition, a large proportion of CREST's activities were devoted to preparation of the 5th Framework Programme, including opinions on the working paper and, subsequently, on the formal proposals for the specific programmes.18 In particular, the committee examined the programmes on the international role of Community research, improving human research potential and socioeconomic research, those of the JRC, and coordination of transport research between the different key actions concerned. It also considered the association of the applicant countries with the 5th Framework Programme19 and the synergies between the programme and COST and EUREKA. Generally CREST's opinions showed that the Member States broadly supported the Commission proposals.
The Committee also studied information, monitoring (systematic annual review) and evaluation activities. It endorsed the 1998 annual report and the five-year assessment reports, the monitoring reports on the specific programmes and the planned developments on the evaluation front.20 Finally, examination of the Second European Report on S/T indicators provided an opportunity for the Committee to make its contribution to the discussion on the relations between scientific performance, technological development, innovation and technology prospects.
18- COM(97)553 and CREST/1201/98; COM(1998)305 and CREST/1208/98.