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Position paper of the Greek government concerning the 5th Community Research Framework Programme

General

The preparations of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) on Community Research and Technology are well under way and several countries have already expressed their views on this matter. The following is a first draft of certain key aspects concerning the Greek point of view.
The FP5 should strive to correct weaknesses of the previous Framework Programmes and avoid distorting their most effective and efficient features.

The analyses and evaluations carried out concerning the previous Framework Programmes such as the European Report on Science and Technology Indicators, the reports of the relevant Evaluation Committees and the ESTA and IRDAC reports, conclude that while Europe is strong in research and development it is lacking in its efforts to support, economically, those activities which will have a positive impact on employment and quality of life. Accordingly, while maintaining a strong base concerning the research component, one should concentrate more on innovative techniques and less on redirecting and restructuring the activities involved in research and development. The present method of allocating research funds through "open calls", treats all research teams equally (without predjudice and limitations toward selected areas) and should be considered as the cornerstone for the next Framework Programme. This method allows for the exchange of a broad spectrum of ideas and practical "know how" while promoting and benefiting the European dimension. FP5 must harness high level expertise in the EU in order to surpass the standards required in a competitive Europe. Cohesion must be conserved.

Furthermore the "contractors meetings" where all contractors of projects involved in particular thematic areas meet for progress reports and exchange views along with regular conferences which are held with seminars in related areas, provide an effective way to coordinate research efforts.Professionals of different nationalities evaluate progress and make recommendations. This, in combination with the functions involved with the programme committees provides efficient mechanisms of coordination for the relevant activities.A certain degree of duplication should not be avoided altogether, as duplication, is an effective practice in most living systems and often provides a chance for innovative approaches thus allowing for alternatives regarding rigidly structured national efforts.

The selection of priorities must be based on real needs as well as state of the art assessments, otherwise unfounded or trivial research activities may result.Although the EU research effort is only a small percentage of the overall European research activities carried out at a national level, it nevertheless provides the possibility to combine forces on a particular problem, to make use of expertise available in all European countries, to bring a subcritical national effort above its critical point for success, allows for alternative approaches, stimulates new areas etc. The principle of cohesion should be given more emphasis in the 5th F.P. so that high quality scientific teams are not excluded from its activities on the basis of size, industrial infrastructure, or magnitude of national efforts

Research activities should be characterized both by flexibility and persistence.

Concerning the concept of flexibility, it is considered that the Framework Programme, by nature, allows for sufficient flexibility within its areas and topics of acitivities and may also adapt to major new developments as they arise, by making the appropriate decision at different levels. Therefore non- allocated free funds in the Framework Programme when faced with unexpected challenges may lead to hasty decisions, thus moving large research funds to serve sudden impulses, that should most probably be covered by other means. In this manner the longer term perspective required for obtaining research results is jeopardised and such free funds may finally defeat their own purpose by limiting more apropriate responses to unexpected problems.

In general, a continuous change of objectives and procedures for the sake of flexibility or even for improvement should be viewed with caution, because it will pose a doubt as to the credibility of the Programme to which the scientific and technical community base their plans and prospects.On the other hand, totally inflexible structures, rules and regulations such as the exclusion from the role of coordinator of anyone who does not belong to industry seems over restrictive.

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