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Proposals for Council Decisions
concerning the specific programmes implementing the
Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community
for research, technological development and demonstration activities (1998-2002)

Preserving the ecosystem


(i) Sustainable management and quality of


Objectives and RTD priorities

The overall goal of this key action is to meet one of the major demands of European citizens, namely the provision of affordable high quality water, in particular drinking water, in sufficient quantity, while maintaining the integrity of ecosystems. Research will focus on:

  • Development of integrated approaches for the management of water resources and wetlands as well as the development of treatment and purification technologies. The aim is to develop the knowledge and the technologies needed for the rational management of water resources; to match water supply with demand and achieve cost-efficiency and sustainability; to improve the science base, methodologies and management tools to provide a better understanding of the phenomena and allow integrated management and sustainable use of water and wetlands at catchment scale, within constraints of availability, environmental quality and socio-economic costs-benefits; to develop technologies to prevent and treat pollution of water bodies, to purify water and to use and/or re-use water rationally (including closed loop approaches and reliability of collection and distribution networks).

RTD priorities

: tools and methodologies for cost-effective and sustainable integrated water resources and wetlands management; effective transfer of knowledge and skills to water users; development of real scale applications across Europe with a view to supporting EU policy; optimisation of technologies to treat and purify drinking water and to minimise use and pollution of water; process-integrated treatment of waste water at source; rational re-use of water; application of closed loop technologies.
  • Technologies for monitoring and prevention of pollution, protection and management of groundwater and surface water resources. The aim is to characterise and to assess the state and evolution of the quality and quantity of surface and groundwaters as well as the functioning of aquatic and wetland ecosystems as the basis for more rational management. This will include the development of technologies for assessing and treating pollution originating from contaminated sites and waste disposal sites.

RTD priorities

: improved methods of measuring water quality and quantity and techniques for analysing pollutant flows and development of techniques for integrated assessment of soil pollution treatment methods; predictive models and advanced pollution impact assessment methodologies; updated water quality criteria and indicators for water policies.
  • Surveillance, early warning and communication systems. The aim is to develop systems able to react on different time and space scales, including early warning systems with direct feedback to pollution sources.

RTD priorities

: surveillance systems for point and diffuse pollution sources and for the various environmental recipient systems; control and data management systems, including leakage detection and stormwater management and systems for floods and drought assessment.
  • Technologies for the regulation of stocks and technologies for arid and semi-arid regions and generally water-deficient regions. The aim is to improve and protect water resources and aquatic ecosystems, to optimise water management systems in arid regions, and to better manage water crises.

RTD priorities

: integrated approaches at catchment and collection point level incorporating the various political, social, economic and environmental interactions; improved systems for management of water resources and their use at EU, national, regional and local level to assist decision making.

(ii) Global change, climate and biodiversity

Objectives and RTD priorities

The main goal of this key action is to develop the scientific, technological and socio-economic basis necessary to underpin implementation of Community policies relating to changes in the environment, and to support the research obligations arising from international commitments in the context of sustainable development. Aiming for an integrated approach, the priorities are:

  • To understand, detect, assess and predict global change processes. The aim is to focus mainly on European and sub-regional causes and impacts of specific global change problems, such as climate change, ozone depletion, biodiversity loss, loss of fertile land and habitats, disruptions to ocean circulation. Attention will be given to both natural and anthropogenic phenomena, in the context of the sustainable use of natural resources.

RTD priorities

: variability and change in and between: atmospheric composition, ozone depletion and UVB radiation; biogeochemical and hydrological cycles, biodiversity, climate, ocean processes, sea level; link between climate change and the frequency and scale of extreme events; socio-economic interactions and impacts on natural resources and human health.
  • To foster better understanding of ecosystems (terrestrial and marine). The emphasis will be on ecosystem interactions with land surfaces and land use, soil, water, atmosphere and ocean; role of biodiversity and climate change; interactions between ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, large-scale land degradation and desertification.

RTD priorities

: global change scenarios and their impact on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and the consequences thereof for food security and resource utilisation; assessment of biodiversity, including losses; assessment of global change and climate change impacts on, and risks to, key sensitive systems or areas; identification and quantification of ecosystem role in biogeochemical cycles; land use modelling, desertification trends.
  • To develop scenarios and strategies for the prevention and mitigation of, and for possible adaptation to, the effects of global change, climate change and loss of biodiversity. The aim is to provide a sound scientific basis for the development of tangible management strategies and actions to address the adverse consequences outlined in the key action.

RTD priorities

: formulation and evaluation of options, assessing their scientific, economic, technical and policy feasibility, and their social acceptability; conditions for decoupling economic growth and environmental deterioration; assessment and enhancement of institutional capabilities for implementation of international treaties .
  • To support the development of the European component of the global observation systems for climate, terrestrial systems and oceans. The aim is to identify and help fill key gaps in existing observation system capacity in order to ensure that the necessary data are available to address the prediction, impact assessment and response options to global change.

RTD priorities

: development of instruments, systems and methods to establish and process long-term consolidated data sets of key variables by both in-situ measurements and remote sensing techniques. This will cover, as required, the atmosphere, oceans, land, hydrosphere, cryosphere and biosphere.

(iii) Sustainable marine ecosystems

Objectives and RTD priorities

The goal of this key action is to promote sustainable integrated management of marine resources and to contribute to the marine aspects of environment and sustainable development policies of the EU.

This action will contribute to better coordination of national marine policies, and therefore a continued commitment is required, all the more so because the European seas are among the most heavily used in the world. The research objectives are:

  • To develop the scientific knowledge on marine processes, ecosystems and interactions. The aim is to facilitate the sustainable use of the marine environment and resources while fully respecting its overall integrity and functioning.

RTD priorities

: effects of physical forces, environmental factors and interactions at the ocean boundaries on ecosystem functioning and natural variability; extreme environments and their communities: functioning and potential for exploitation; sedimentary systems and their contribution to the sustainable management and use of shelf, slope and deep-sea floor; origin, delivery and cycling of contaminants, key elements and nutrients, and their impact on ecosystem functioning.
  • To analyse causes, consequences and possible solutions of the present anthropogenic impact on marine ecosystems. The aim is to reduce the impact of human activity upon the biodiversity and sustainable functioning of marine ecosystems and to develop the technologies required to facilitate safe and profitable economic yet sustainable exploitation of the marine environment.

RTD priorities

: effects of anthropogenic activities, including those of species introduction and biogeochemical cycling on ecosystems; mechanisms of marine biodiversity evolution to reverse trends in its reduction; processes that mitigate impact of contaminants and eutrophication, recovery of degraded systems. Development of technologies for (i) the characterisation and monitoring of marine environments; (ii) sample collection; (iii) exploration of living resources for biotechnological applications; (iv) communication, surveying analysis, imaging and monitoring systems, deep sea platforms .
  • To develop the capacity for monitoring and managing coastal phenomena. The aim is to alleviate pollution, flooding and erosion, in particular of fragile coastlines and to facilitate land reclamation from the sea.

RTD priorities

: long-term coastal morphological changes, interactions between ecology, morphology, erosion and impact of human activities; extreme events, risk analysis, sea states propagation from offshore to the coast; tidal inlets and river mouths dynamics and stability; estuarine morphodynamics and estuarine-coastal interaction; fate of pollutants; natural coastal defence mechanisms, impact assessment of structures on marine environment, adaptation of innovative engineering techniques for minimising disturbances of the ecosystem; instrumentation, data management and modelling for effective monitoring.
  • To enable operational forecasting for offshore activities. The aim is to facilitate safe, sustainable offshore operations within the given environmental constraints and to develop the necessary components of an appropriate marine observation system.

RTD priorities

: development of pilot systems for monitoring, prediction and management, with a view to safe offshore operations: (i) observation and measurement techniques and tools for systematic acquisition of ocean parameters, (ii) improve forecasting techniques through refinement of mathematical models capable of predicting impact of natural and human-induced variations on marine ecosystems and resources, (iii) methodologies to assess the pertinence of environmental parameters, and (iv) best practice compatible with requirements of international regulations and conventions.

(iv) The city of tomorrow and cultural heritage

Objectives and RTD priorities

The overall goal of this key action is to support sustainable economic development and competitiveness, improved urban management and integrated planning policy, and help safeguard and improve the quality of life and cultural identity of citizens. It will focus partly on the provision of an integrated socio-economic knowledge-base, and products, services, tools and technologies for better city management and partly on the environmental challenges, particularly in relation to reducing pollutant emissions.

  • Integrated approaches aiming at sustainable development of cities and rational management of resources. The aim is to create new models for the sustainable development of European cities and city regions and prepare medium- and long-term socio-economic scenarios and research, development and demonstration activities focusing, in particular, on supporting and stimulating economic competitiveness, town planning and architecture, social integration, safety, energy efficiency and conservation (in particular, in buildings and in urban transport) and the exploitation of information networks (the concept of "digital cities").

RTD priorities : urban development scenarios and integrated planning tools; impact of technologies, infrastructure, noise and air pollution from all sources on social development, resource utilisation, health and the environment; demand management, safety and security of supply of essential resources (e.g. energy, land and water); integrated approaches to better use and conservation of resources and reduced pollution and waste taking into account social and environmental sustainability.

  • Protection, conservation and enhancement of European cultural heritage. The aim is to develop sound management of cultural resources of cities and urban regions to improve citizens’ quality of life, tourism and job creation.

RTD priorities

: products, methodologies and technologies for diagnosis, protection, conservation, restoration and the sustainable exploitation of the European cultural heritage, focusing on promotion of both movable and unmovable cultural assets and the quality of life; measures for protecting cultural heritage against technological and natural hazards; methodologies, including risk assessment, for harmonious and effective integration of cultural heritage into the urban setting.
  • Development and demonstration of technologies for safe, economic, clean, effective and sustainable preservation, renovation, construction, dismantling and demolition of the built environment, in particular for large groups of buildings. The aim is to conserve, renovate, enhance, protect and develop the built environment in a manner which responds to citizens’ and cultural needs, in a framework of long-term sustainability and improved quality of life.

RTD priorities : effective technologies for economic, safe and environment-friendly design, maintenance, repair, modernisation, conversion, construction, dismantling and demolition of the built environment, in particular for large groups of buildings; essential services to combat hazards and deterioration; more efficient management of resources (materials, energy, water, etc.), safety and security, optimum use and re-use of land (above and beneath the ground), including rehabilitation of contaminated sites; reliable environmental impact assessment; indoor environmental management.

  • Comparative assessment and cost-effective implementation of strategies for sustainable transport systems in an urban environment. The aim is to identify the best innovatory technologies radically reducing pollution levels and urban congestion at affordable prices for users.

RTD priorities

: propulsion technologies and the corresponding infrastructure, new vehicle designs with low energy consumption and emissions, such as zero-emission vehicles and microcars; validation and demonstration of prototypes and vehicle fleets to guarantee effective operation, the quality of life and conservation of the cultural heritage.

(v) Cleaner energy systems, including renewables

Objectives and RTD priorities

The aim of this key action is to develop technologies which will help minimise the environmental impact of the production and use of energy in Europe and be consistent with the energy policy objectives. These will help preserve the ecosystem by reducing emissions at local and global levels and increasing the share of new and renewable energies. Accordingly action will be taken to investigate cleaner, most notably renewable, energy sources as well as to help reduce the environmental impact of existing fossil fuel use. Work will focus in order of priority on:\

  • Large-scale generation of electricity and/or heat with reduced CO2 emissions from coal, biomass or other fuels, including combined heat and power. The aim is to obtain substantial improvements in efficiency with reduction of the cost and environmental impact of energy conversion processes, whether based on fossil fuels or renewable energy sources.

RTD priorities

: combustion and other thermochemical conversion processes (e.g. gasification, pyrolysis); generation of electricity and/or heat with reduced CO2 emissions from coal, biomass, waste or other fuels; improving the efficiency of gas turbines, gas motors and diesel engines; combined heat and power.
  • Development and demonstration, including for decentralised generation, of conversion technologies for the main new and renewable energy sources, in particular, biomass, fuel cells, wind and solar technologies. The aim is to enable the deployment of new and renewable energies in grid connected and 'stand alone' applications where there are prospects of a substantial contribution to energy supplies.

RTD priorities : fuel cells, for both stationary and transport applications; clean conversion and cost-effective use of biomass in the context of integrated energy generation systems; wind energy, in both on-shore and off-shore applications; solar technologies, photovoltaics and solar thermal technologies; other renewable energy options that can contribute significantly to programme objectives .

  • Integration of new and renewable energy sources into energy systems. The aim is to overcome the problems associated with integrating new energy sources into established energy systems, develop new applications and overcome barriers to the greater uptake of renewable energies.

RTD priorities : overcoming the technical problems associated with the integration of renewable energy sources into energy grids and processes; hybrid systems, combining different renewables or renewables with conventional systems; improving acceptability of renewables e.g. reducing visual intrusion and noise; identifying, and seeking ways to remove, non - technical barriers to integration of renewables.

  • Cost-effective environmental abatement technologies for power production. The aim is to reduce the environmental impact of power production focusing on the most polluting energy streams.

RTD priorities : emission abatement technologies for power stations (e.g. for reducing emissions of CO2, SOx, NOx and other pollutants); hot gas cleaning; including understanding of basic scientific phenomena.

(vi) Economic and efficient energy for a competitive Europe

Objectives and RTD priorities

The aim of this key action is to provide Europe with a reliable, clean, efficient, safe and economic energy supply for the benefit of its citizens, the functioning of society and the competitiveness of industry. A more efficient use of energy is required with technologies capable of achieving substantial overall cost reductions and reduction of energy intensity. Action will need to be taken at all stages of the energy cycle - production, distribution and final use - to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Work will focus in order of priority on:

  • Technologies for the rational and efficient end use of energy. The aim is to make a major step towards a sustainable energy system by substantially reducing the energy intensity of demand and making more effective, sustainable use of energy in the built-up environment, transport and industry (including agriculture). This requires the development and deployment of new technologies, improving existing technologies and dissemination and demonstration aimed at modifying user behaviour. RTD will focus on areas with the greatest potential to deliver sustainable use of energy.

RTD priorities

: lighting, space heating and cooling and the integration of renewables into buildings; improved energy and environmental performance of vehicles and the corresponding infrastructure, including fuels, energy storage, conversion, combustion and transmission; reduction of energy intensity of industrial processes.
  • Technologies for the transmission and distribution of energy. The aim is to achieve the full potential of intelligent energy networks in optimising the efficiency of the whole energy system through improving the flexibility, reliability and competitiveness of energy transmission and distribution systems whilst reducing costs, transmission losses and environmental impact. Emphasis will be given to facilitate the integration of new sources of supply into European energy networks and to contribute to management of, and support to, liberalised energy markets.

RTD priorities: intelligent energy transmission and distribution systems; long distance gas transmission; optimised network management and control systems; optimal system efficiency for electricity, gas, and district heating and cooling systems; superconductivity .

  • Technologies for the storage of energy on both macro and micro scale. The aim is to improve the efficiency of energy storage; at the macro scale in order to optimise the benefits of intermittent sources of renewable energy, at the medium-size scale to permit the development of zero-emission vehicles and at the micro scale to enable further downsizing of electronic devices.

RTD priorities

: reliable and cost efficient energy storage technologies, including liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas, H2, advanced batteries, both macro and micro, for stationary and mobile applications.
  • More efficient exploration, extraction and production technologies for fossil fuels. The aim is to allow more efficient identification of the energy resources available within the EU and to optimise their exploitation, reducing the costs and environmental impact of their production with the development of technologies which will be more competitive in global markets.

RTD priorities : improved tools for characterisation and management of fossil fuel reserves; production technologies for hydrocarbons, especially for hostile subsea locations; reduced environmental impact and improved recovery techniques for hydrocarbons, including those of wider application e.g. for geothermal energy; recovery of hydrocarbons from coal beds.

  • Improving the efficiency of new and renewable energy sources. The aim is to achieve the widest possible deployment of renewable energies by reducing the costs of their use in energy production and by advancing our understanding of the availability of renewable resources in Europe, improving the efficiency of the technologies and reducing the costs of their manufacture.

RTD priorities:

biomass exploitation and management of waste as a fuel resource; improving efficiencies of photovoltaic cells and wind turbines; reducing costs of production of renewables technologies (e.g. turbine blades, PV modules).
  • The elaboration of scenarios on supply and demand technologies in economy/environment/energy systems and their interactions, and the analysis of the cost effectiveness (based on whole life costs) and efficiency of all energy sources. The aim is to develop strategies for the production and use of energy, for the introduction of new energy technologies and for policy development.

RTD priorities : long- and short-term scenario analysis at the global, Community, and regional level of supply and demand in the context of economic developments, social and environmental needs; modelling and policy impact analysis; overall assessment of energy markets and technology impacts taking into account the operation of liberalised energy markets.

NB : While the Commission Services do their utmost to avoid any errors or omissions, the Commission disclaims all liability for the documents circulated, and the only authentic version is that published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

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