Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

To develop priorities for research projects of common industrial interest to help increase the competitiveness and productivity of the European maritime sector.


The task force on maritime systems of the future is one of several established on the initiative of Commissioners Cresson (Research, education and training), Bangemann (Industry, telecommunications and information technologies) and Kinnock (Transport) for the purpose of developing priorities for research projects of common industrial interest. The task forces are focused on clearly defined areas and are aimed at, firstly, identifying, and then coordinating, the research efforts being made in each area (at both private and public level) in the individual Member States and within the framework of relevant European Union programmes, particularly research carried out under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme.

The rationale behind the task forces is to redress the current situation where only 13% of public research budgets are allocated to research projects involving European cooperation, as opposed to 87% for strictly national research. Greater coordination between the Member States' research activities is necessary to reduce expensive and wasteful duplication of effort and will, ultimately, improve Europe's industrial competitiveness in the global economy. The first task forces were set up in early 1995 and cover six areas: multimedia educational software; the car of the future; the new generation of aeroplanes; vaccines and virus-based diseases; the train of the future; and transport intermodality. The list is open-ended and new task forces may be established in the future.

The task force on maritime systems of the future was set up in the third-quarter of 1995 to help the European maritime sector confront the challenges of the future and to enable them to increase their competitivity and productivity. The maritime industry is of key importance to the European economy, with the three main sectors (shipbuilding, transport and marine resources) providing over 800,000 jobs throughout the European Union.

The gradual phasing-out of direct and indirect public support to the shipbuilding sector since 1994 has opened the way for the development of cooperation between the Member States, a necessary prerequisite to confronting the fierce international competition in this sector. It is of paramount importance that the EU maritime industry improves its competitiveness, not only through industrial cooperation, but also by employing advanced technologies to produce high technology vessels. Maritime transport services are also in the process of being restructured, while the marine resources industry will be confronted with increasing competition and environmental requirements.

Against this background, the task force has the following aims:

- To identify priority industrial and technological objectives for the sector;
- To contribute to the research and demonstration efforts associated with the development of maritime transport systems, resources and industrial potential adding value to shipbuilding and other industrial activities, including their integration into modern intermodal transport systems;
- To create a synergy between existing industrial activities supported by Community and national programmes.

The consultation process to be initiated under the task force will consolidate the regular consultations with maritime industries and users which have taken place since 1992 within the framework of the Maritime Industries Forum.

An action plan is to be drawn up which will make proposals for mobilizing funds available at national and European level in a more coordinated manner, so as to promote R&D, dissemination and innovation activities. This may include proposals for combining selected projects within appropriate specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme.


No details are available for this section.


As a first step, the task forces are responsible for assessing the situation in their specific domain, preparing an inventory of actual research efforts and defining priorities for research following intensive consultations with industry and users. On the basis of this analysis, a scheme for combining priority projects with the relevant specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme will be drawn up.

At present, the task forces do not, themselves, manage or fund projects; they will, nonetheless, be able to influence the content of the remaining calls for proposals under the Fourth Framework Programme and the structure and content of the Fifth Framework Programme. Eventually, the task forces could make use of various provisions contained in the R&D title of the Treaty on European Union: Article 130k which authorizes the establishment of supplementary R&D programmes involving the participation of certain Member States only, Article 130l which provides for Community participation in R&D programmes undertaken by several Member States or Article 130n which permits the Community to establish joint undertakings for research purposes.


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