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Fourth Framework Programme: Commission adopts proposal

The Commission of the European Communities adopted on 30 September 1992 a proposal for Council Decisions concerning the Fourth Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological development, 1994-1998 (COM(92) 406 of 29.9.1992). An introduc...

The Commission of the European Communities adopted on 30 September 1992 a proposal for Council Decisions concerning the Fourth Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological development, 1994-1998 (COM(92) 406 of 29.9.1992). An introduction to the proposal notes that the full analysis and grounds on which the Fourth Framework Programme is based can be found in the document "Research after Maastricht: an assessment, a strategy" (SEC(92) 682 of 7.4.1992). However, a number of elements relating to the legal aspects, the content, and the financial aspects of the proposal are summarized: - Legal aspects: The legal basis of Community action in the field of RTD will remain the Single Act until ratification of the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty). In view of this, the proposal is presented in a two-column format. The left hand column gives the text based on the Single European Act, the right-hand column contains the text based on the Treaty of European Union. The latter will become the Commission's proposal upon ratification of that Treaty. - Scope: Under one of the most important new RTD provisions in the Maastricht Treaty, the Fourth Framework Programme is to include all RTD activities covered by the Treaty. In order to ensure consistency and mutual reinforcement between research policy and other major common policies, all Community research and technological development activities, whatever their form and under whichever common policy they fall (agriculture, fisheries, energy, transport, external relations, etc.), will be included within the Framework Programme. Activities will comprise basic research, basic industrial research, applied research, technological development and demonstration projects. However, all these activities are explicitly confined to the pre-competitive stage. Preparatory, accompanying and follow-up actions previously implemented outside the Framework Programme (international scientific cooperation being the most obvious example) will henceforth be included in the Framework Programme, as will other measures, at present executed on various legal bases and with a multiannual horizon, such as SPRINT. Also to be included are the horizontal measures required to define, implement and support RTD activity, in particular studies, exploratory and evaluation exercises, promotion, support and coordination. - Activities: The four activities which make up the Framework Programme are clearly defined by the Maastricht Treaty, removing the ambiguity of the Single Act in this area. These are: (a) implementation of research, technological development and demonstration programmes, by promoting cooperation with and between undertakings, research centres and universities; (b) promotion of cooperation in the field of Community research, technological development and demonstration with third countries and international organizations; (c) dissemination and optimization of the results of activities in Community research, technological development and demonstration; (d) stimulation of the training and mobility of researchers in the Community. - Content: The content of the Fourth Framework Programme has been determined in accordance with the main objectives of strengthening the competitive position of EC industry at international level, improving the quality of life, and supporting the common policies. Hence the purpose of Community research extends beyond the needs of industry and is to be applied to a series of much broader issues focusing on Europe and society. Core thematic areas within the first activity (a) linked to this field include science and technology for a new urban habitat, the struggle against social exclusion, science and technology for the preservation of European cultural heritage, global change, Europe's major health problems, nuclear safety activities, etc. The development of generic technologies (often requiring a multidisciplinary approach plus a large amount of capital and RTD) will be covered by conventional programmes and by new "technological priority" projects proposed on the initiative of businesses and providing cross-sectional support in areas important to European industry. The clearer structure of the new Framework Programme, and the precise identification of the four activities, will also permit better organization of the content of initiatives supplementary to the RTD programmes themselves. The total proposed financial allocation of ECU 14,700 million (in line with the financial perspectives for 1993-1997 as set out by the Commission in COM(92) 2001 of 10.3.1992) is broken down as follows: First activity, ECU 11,600 million; second activity, ECU 1,400 million; third activity, ECU 700 million; fourth activity ECU 1,000 million. Final division of funding will depend on the amount decided for RTD in the framework of the financial perspectives and on the objective assessment of the content of each action and the priority accorded to core themes. An Annex sets out the scientific and technological objectives (thematic content) of the four activities. The main lines of the envisaged activities are stated and the priority themes indicated. It is noted that the necessary regrouping between these core themes will take place at the level of the specific RTD programmes. The Commission's proposal will be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

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