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Programme Overview

1. Programme objectives
2. Programme strategy
3. Programme structure and contents
  1. Environment and sustainable development
  2. Energy
4. Synergies with other programmes
5. Implementation of the programme

1. Programme objectives

The strategic goal of the programme is to contribute to sustainable development by focusing on key activities crucial for social well-being and economic competitiveness in Europe.

2. Programme strategy

In line with the principles laid down for selecting major research themes for the Fifth Framework Programme, which is aimed at addressing socio-economic issues, emphasis will be placed in this programme on the following.

European added value and the subsidiarity principle : By mobilising resources and focusing on key targets, the specific programme will form a key part of the European contribution to global initiatives and programmes. Knowledge generated through collaborative RTD at the European level is essential to addressing the serious issues of sustainable development facing the EU. These efforts, including pre-normative research, will confer genuine European added value to the process of developing appropriate regulatory frameworks, for example in the post-Kyoto context.

Social objectives : Society is making increasing demands for better living conditions, better safety, and better use of vital and scarce resources including secure and economic energy supplies and services. These key societal issues will only be solved if in addition to developing technologies, the socio-economic context is appropriately analyzed and taken into account.

Economic development and scientific and technological prospects : The promotion of sustainable development will not be possible unless economic objectives relating to technological development, competitiveness and growth are reconciled with societal goals. This challenge must be met in the context of significant structural and demographic changes, and globalisation of the economy. Enormous potential will exist for global exploitation from several areas of the programme, strengthening economic competitiveness and creating new jobs.

3. Programme structure and contents

The programme is composed of two sub-programmes, "Environment and Sustainable Development" and "Energy", which makes it possible to address complex societal-driven issues through integrated, multidisciplinary and multisectoral activities.

In order to meet the goal of the programme, a set of key actions identify targets and deliverables to be addressed through an integrated, multidisciplinary, problem-solving approach. The RTD activities associated with each key action should be seen as a coherent grouping of small and large, basic, generic and applied research and demonstration activities directed towards a common European challenge or problem identified through the key action, not excluding global issues. Accordingly each proposal will have to show, with supporting evidence including quantitative objectives, the extent to which it can address most efficiently the targets and deliverables set for the key action.

The choice which key action primarily is being addressed by the proposal shall be guided by the problem which the proposal addresses (see Annex II of the Work Programme).

Please refer to the Work Programme for a full description of key actions and other activities


The strategic goal of this part of the programme is to promote environmental science and technology so as to improve our quality of life and boost growth, competitiveness and employment, while meeting the need for sustainable management of resources and protection of the environment.

3.A.1 Key actions

RTD will concentrate through four key actions on tackling the following issues:

Key Action 1: Sustainable management and quality of water
Key Action 2: Global change, climate and biodiversity
Key Action 3: Sustainable marine ecosystems
Key Action 4: The city of tomorrow and cultural heritage

3.A.2. Research and technological development activities of a generic nature

Generic RTD activities will also be carried out in complementary areas as follows:

  1. The fight against major natural and technological hazards
  2. Development of Earth observation satellite technologies
  3. Socio-economic aspects of environmental change in the perspective of sustainable development (the impact on society, the economy and employment).

3.A.3. Support for research infrastructures

Specific attention is given to support for research infrastructures to encourage transnational use of public or private facilities in the following areas (1) :

  1. Global change, climate and biodiversity research facilities
  2. Marine research facilities
  3. Natural hazards research facilities.


The strategic goal of this part of the programme is to develop sustainable energy systems and services for Europe and contribute to a more sustainable development world-wide, leading to increased security and diversity of supply, the provision of high-quality, low-cost energy services, improved industrial competitiveness and reduced environmental impact.

3.B.1. Key actions

RTD will concentrate through two key actions on tackling the following issues:

Key Action 5: Cleaner energy systems, including renewables
Key Action 6: Economic and efficient energy for a competitive Europe

3.B.2. Research and technological development activities of a generic nature

Generic activities essential to achieve the objectives of the programme will also be carried out as follows:

  1. Socio-economic aspects of energy within the perspective of sustainable development (the impact on society, the economy and employment).

Support for research infrastructures is not foreseeen for the sub-programme Energy.

4. Synergies with other programmes

Collaboration, coordination and complementarity will be fostered within and between key actions in this and other programmes, including the activities of the JRC, national research programmes and international research programmes. Details are given in Annex II of the Work Programme.

Co-ordination with other thematic programmes is based on promoting synergetic interactions and complementary activities and avoiding unnecessary duplication. Co-ordination with the horizontal programmes strives to reinforce policy-based objectives linked to the involvement of SMEs and the innovation process, training, and international co-operation.

Special attention will be given to the co-ordination of relevant activities across the Framework Programme in the areas of marine research, urban issues, transport issues, global change, space and energy technologies.

Integration will be an important feature of the programme, focusing and co-ordinating shared-cost actions by taking advantage of the possibilities offered by Marie Curie Fellowships, Concerted Actions, Thematic Networks, Accompanying Measures, and clustering.

5. Implementation of the programme

The implementation of the programme is governed through the Work Programme in particular its annexes I to IV. Implementation of all activities will focus on two main elements:

  • to address complex societal-driven issues though integrated multidisciplinary and multisectorial activities involving wherever possible the principal stakeholders - private-public sector partnerships, and end-users from business, industrial and policy-making sectors.

  • to concentrate on finding solutions to strategic problems, and supporting only proposals which are of substantial regional, European and global significance.

The quantified targets, set out in the Work Programme, may be ambitious but are a clear indication of the scale of the socio-economic impact to which an individual proposal should aspire. The follow-up and implementation on a European scale would be expected to substantially meet the specified targets.

Proposals corresponding to, or overlapping unnecessarily with, previously or currently EC-funded projects are likely to be rejected. It is the responsibility of the proposers to avoid such overlaps.

5.1. Types of calls

Most activities will employ the mechanism of periodic calls , in which proposals will be invited for submission within a defined timeframe ("fixed deadline proposals").
Certain activities within the Work Programme will be subject to an open call which will be launched early in the programme and remain open until a specified date towards its end. Evaluations of proposals in this case will be carried out between once and three times per year.

5.2. Specific participation rules

Going beyond the general participation rules for the Fifth Framework Programme (see Section III Box 4), the Specific Programme "Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development" foresees participation from third countries and international organisations on a project by project basis, if that contributes efficiently to the implementation of the programme. Exceptionally a financial contribution is possible, if their participation is an advantage and of added value for the achievement of the programme objectives. Proposers are advised to duly justify those exceptional cases in which they request financial contribution of the Community for participants from third countries and international organisations.

As results and information from RTD activities under this programme can be relevant for policy making, the provisions for access by national administrations to results and information which are made under the "Rules for participation and dissemination" for the 5th Framework Programme may be applied (see Annex IV of the Work Programme).

5.3. Specific implementation modalities

(1) Operating principles

The programme "Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development" is implemented by the European Commission. The European Commission is assisted by two committees consisting of representatives of each Member and Associated State, one for each sub-programme. The Commission is also supported in its work by Expert Advisory Groups. The members of these groups are appointed on a personal basis for their experience and knowledge and provide independent expert advice concerning the content of the Work Programme.

(2) Types of actions

All implementation modalities mentioned in I.3.2 will apply to this programme, except access to research infrastructure and research training networks.

(3) INCO-Bursaries

Proposers for R&D, demonstration and combined projects or concerted actions may include applications for Bursaries for young researchers from developing countries in conjunction with their RTD proposals. Further information is given in Box 1 .

(4) Clustering

Clustering mechanisms may vary according to agreements between participants, particularly with regard to their willingness to co-operate and to gather the resulting information, as well as to the timing of when the cluster is prepared and finalised.

A first possibility is that consortia can agree among themselves to integrate, at the conception stage, a group of proposals focused on a common objective and constituting a potential cluster. The content of each single proposal must be presented in the same way as would be any individually proposal submitted. Each proposal part of a potential cluster will be evaluated normally, as all other proposals, according to the same selection criteria mentioned in the relevant call for proposals. A second possibility is the clustering during the contract negotiation of independently submitted and selected proposals. This will be on the initiative of the Commission, on the basis, inter alia, of expert opinions and with the full agreement of the participants. The third possibility concerns already existing, individual contracts evaluated in different calls for proposals in the same activity area or in a different activity area.

The overall co-ordination of the cluster will be carried out by the cluster co-ordinator while the single projects report to their corresponding programmes and key actions. The Commission may support the costs of such cluster co-ordination through an additional co-ordination contract (thematic network).

(1) Implementation of these activities will be done through the types of actions supported by the sub-programme "Environment and Sustainable Development" as specified in the Work Programme and the Call.

(2) The activities of the sub-programme "Energy" described in this guide relate to the Non Nuclear Energy, but will be closely co-ordinated with the research and training activities of the Euratom Framework Programme in the field of Nuclear Energy which are described in a separate guide.

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