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Article 185 Initiatives

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

Identification process

Set-up

Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) Initiatives in practice




The Basics

What is an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative?
Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) states that:
"In implementing the multiannual framework programme, the Union may make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States, including participation in the structures created for the execution of those programmes."
Thus, Article 185 TFEU enables the Union to participate financially in research programmes undertaken jointly by several Member States, including participation in the structures created for the execution of national programmes.
In practical terms, in an Article 185 TFEU initiative, the EU participates in the joint implementation of (parts of) national programmes.

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Why coordination of national research programmes?
The main objective of the coordination of national research programmes is to reduce the fragmentation of research efforts carried out at national or regional level in Europe. In ensuring better coordination of research activities and the convergence of research and innovation policies at national and EU levels, some important goals can be achieved:

  • Critical mass can be reached in certain research areas, ensuring better use of scarce resources;
  • Through joint action, common answers can be found to common needs and interests;
  • Global issues can be addressed at EU level and common approaches can be developed (e.g. ethics, standards, etc.);
  • The Member States involved are given the opportunity to exchange "good practice" and learn from each other.

More generally, the coordination of (parts of) national research programmes will enable Member States to avoid unnecessary overlaps of efforts, to exchange information, expertise and good practice in specific fields.

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Identification process

What are the relevant "criteria" for the identification of potential Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives?
The Seventh Framework Programme states that in well-defined cases, Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives could be launched in areas to be identified in close association with the Member States, including the possible cooperation with intergovernmental programmes, on the basis of a series of criteria:

  • relevance to EU objectives,
  • the clear definition of the objective to be pursued and its relevance to the objectives of this Framework Programme,
  • presence of a pre-existing basis (existing or envisaged research programmes),
  • European added value,
  • critical mass, with regard to the size and the number of programmes involved and the similarity of activities they cover,
  • efficiency of Article 185 TFEU as the most appropriate means for achieving the objectives.

In defining these criteria, stock was taken of the experience gained from the EDCTP

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Which Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives are foreseen under FP7?
On the basis of the criteria set out in the Seventh Framework Programme, four potential initiatives under Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) are identified in the Specific Programmes of FP7.
Three of these are under the "Cooperation" specific programme [PDF]

  • "AAL" - a joint research programme on "Ambient Assisted Living" (use of new ICT in order to enhance the quality of the lives of elderly people);
  • "BONUS"- a joint research programme in the field of Baltic Sea research;
  • "EMRP" - a joint research programme in the field of Metrology (the science of measurement).

One is under the "Capacities" specific programme [PDF]

  • "Eurostars" - a joint research programme for research performing SMEs and their partners.

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What is the procedure for identifying further Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives during FP7?
Depending on the experience with this first series of potential Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives, further initiatives could be proposed during the lifetime of FP7. In developing these proposals, the outcome of the mid-term evaluation of the initiatives which are up and running will be taken into consideration.

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Set-up

How is an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative set-up?
Each Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative is set up individually through a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council, via the co-decision procedure.
Article 185 TFEU Initiatives are set up on the basis of a Council Regulation following a proposal from the Commission.

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Who can participate in an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative?
The Decision setting-up an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative is addressed to the Member States. Other countries, in particular FP7 Associated Countries, may join the joint programmes, in accordance with criteria laid out in each Decision.

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Can an existing initiative be prolonged?
Each Decision setting up an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative foresees a specific duration. An extension of the initial duration is possible, but this requires in principle the adoption of another Decision, via the co-decision process.

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What is the state-of-play with regards to the Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives identified in FP7?
Decisions for three Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives foreseen in the Specific Programmes of the Framework Programme - 'Eurostars', 'AAL' and EMRP - were adopted by the European Parliament and the Council via the co-decision procedure.
Concerning 'BONUS' the co-decision procedure is being finalized.

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Does a legal structure need to be set up?
According to Annex III to the FP7 Decision, the joint implementation of an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative will require the establishment or existence of a Dedicated Implementation Structure (DIS). In practice, the Commission will conclude a Delegation Agreement with the corresponding DIS.
Neither the Treaties nor FP7 foresee a specific model for such an implementation structure. The participating States can:

  • foresee the appropriate legal structure. They can opt for an existing structure or set up a specific structure for implementing the joint programme. The decision is taken on a case-by-case basis. States have to be sure that the structure allows their appropriate participation and involvement.
  • decide on the modalities of the functioning of the structure. Where participating States will not be members of the structure directly (either because they do not want to, or because they cannot take part in it) but designate an organisation to do so, they have to determine the legal relationship to be established with those organisations in order to ensure that the latter act on behalf of the State(s).

Since the structure will be the recipient of EU funds, it should be legally established before the corresponding Article 185 TFEU initiative Decision is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

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How are the funds managed?
The Dedicated Implementation Structure (DIS) is the recipient of the EU funding. To this effect, the Commission shall conclude a Delegation Agreement with the DIS. Under the terms of this Delegation Agreement, the DIS is responsible for the programme management (i.e. the effective implementation of the joint research programme), the financial management (i.e. receiving, allocating and monitoring the EU financial contribution) and the contractual management (i.e. sole contractor with the Commission) of the joint research programme.

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Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) Initiatives in practice

What are the lessons learnt from 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiatives under FP6?
The Sixth Framework Programme saw the first application of 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) through the "European and Developing Countries Clinical trials Partnership" (EDCTP) initiative. The Commission's proposal for EDCTP was presented on 29 August 2002 and the Decision was adopted through a co-decision procedure on 16 June 2003.
In order to draw lessons from the experience of EDCTP, an independent review of the initiative was undertaken in July 2007. The report of the Panel, chaired by Mr Van Velzen, makes specific recommendations on prerequisites for new proposals for Article 185 initiatives. Following is an extract from the report:
"4.2. For an Article 169 Programme to become and remain successful, there must be pre-existing national programmes, strong commitment by Member States to provide funding and irreversible national support.
4.3. Before EU money becomes available, there must be: common work-plan; sound governance structure; fixed national financial contributions; clear evaluation criteria and procedures; clear deliverables; solutions for the liability issue."

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Is there a minimum EU requirement regarding the funding to be earmarked by the participating Member States?
No, there is not.
However, the proposed topic should reach a critical mass of financial resources to obtain a significant impact. In addition, the national research programmes must be of an adequate size in terms of efforts deployed (both in terms of budget and human resources).

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What is required from Member States in terms of commitment?
A clear and firm commitment of the Member States is required from the outset, in scientific, financial and political terms, before the legislative process can start.
Participating States should therefore:

  • declare their willingness to participate in an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) proposal through a clear commitment at Ministerial level;
  • ensure that their respective national R&D; programmes, which form part of the Article 185 TFEU proposal, will be implemented throughout the duration of the EU participation;
  • commit adequate financial and human resources at national level.

The detailed requirements for participating States are included in each Article 185 TFEU Decision.

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Is it necessary that a joint research programme undertaken by Member States is implemented via an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative?
No, it is not mandatory nor necessary for the EU to be involved in a joint research programme undertaken by several Member States.
However, an Article 185 TFEU (ex Article 169 TEC) initiative allows for a financial participation of the EU in the joint implementation of national research programmes.

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Last updated on: 2010-10-06