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Paving the way towards FP7.

DG Research is currently fully engaged in the work of preparing the Commission proposal for the next Framework Programme. This is FP7 which will be the main EU research policy instrument from 2007 onwards.

As the Directorate responsible for EU research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH), Directorate K is actively participating in this preparatory process. Within that context, as well as undertaking an internal analysis of future needs for SSH, it has also launched a particularly wide consultation of relevant SSH stakeholders, both within and outside the Commission.

This has included discussions with national research funding agencies, professional research association, private philanthropic foundations and also the Commission's policy DGs.

These discussions are complemented by a web consultation addressed to a wide public including researchers in SSH in the EU and beyond, aiming to provide them with opportunities for contributing to the future SSH research agenda.

In the web consultation, which was launched during the last two months of 2004, we have asked for views on two main issues: the key research themes to be addressed in the future, and the specific needs of infrastructures for comparative research. While a thorough evaluation of this consultation is currently under way, a first analysis suggests a common view that comparative research at European level in the field of social sciences plays a fundamental role as a catalyst for national research capabilities. Furthermore, the key role of SSH as a provider of significant new knowledge, particularly for policy-makers, at European, national or regional levels is fully recognised.

While continuing to implement and disseminate FP5 and FP6 SSH research projects.

The first research results from the projects supported during the Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002) are about to be published while at least one-third of the 185 funded projects are still running. Projects funded following the first call of FP6 (Priority 7 and Priority 8) are being launched and the second and last call of FP6 for SSH has just been published.

While planning ahead for the future, we continue to attach great importance to providing further maximum visibility to the research projects' results and to making these fully available to policy-makers, our primary end-users, as well as to other interested stakeholders and to European citizens in general.

It is hoped that this Newsletter will provide a major contribution towards helping us with this task.