The instruments essential for implementation of the new Framework Programme were finalised at the start of 1999, clearing the way for opening the first calls for proposals in March. For each specific programme a detailed work programme for 1999 has been published plus an information pack for proposers containing the work programme and a guide to submission of proposals and evaluation manual.
Following publication of the first calls for proposals in March, the proposals received for all the specific programmes will be evaluated just before or during the summer (for at least some of the fields covered). This will make it possible to conclude most of the negotiations, to commit the funds available and, as far as feasible, to sign contracts before the end of the year. However, the Commission will keep a watch to ensure that this particularly tight, heavy schedule in 1999 will not be at the expense of rigorous evaluation of all the proposals expected.
Multiannual plans ("road maps") for 1999 to 2002 have been included in the work programmes to enable potential proposers to plan ahead. As stated in these plans, the calls for proposals in some fields will remain permanently open, with regular rounds of evaluations up to 2002. This is the case, in particular, with the Marie Curie fellowships, the technology stimulation measures for SMEs and the measures in support of research infrastructure.
On the international cooperation front, the major challenge for 1999 is the entry into force of the association agreements with the 11 applicant countries.
Implementation of the Action Plan for Innovation will in turn continue in 1999, when the Commission will study new approaches taking account of developments on the national scene, technological progress and changes in the world context.