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Fourth Framework Programme: European Parliament 46-point Resolution

The European Parliament passed a 46-point Resolution on the Fourth Framework Programme on 23 June 1993. The Resolution is based on the Commission working documents concerning the Fourth Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological dev...

The European Parliament passed a 46-point Resolution on the Fourth Framework Programme on 23 June 1993. The Resolution is based on the Commission working documents concerning the Fourth Framework Programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological development (1994-1998). The Resolution points out that the European Parliament's opinion on the working documents are to be considered principally as a political guideline, not as part of its legislative activities. Under the Treaty on European Union (the Maastricht Treaty), the Fourth Framework Programme on Research will be treated under the co-decision process (the Article of the Treaty relating to co-decision by Parliament). Therefore the European Parliament will not pronounce its final opinion until the Treaty has been ratified by all the Member States. Nevertheless, on examination of the Commission's working documents, the European Parliament: - Does not consider the budget allocated to the Framework Programme sufficient to respond to the needs of society or to fulfil all the tasks envisaged in the Maastricht Treaty; - Calls on the Commission to submit an assessment of the Third Framework Programme to coincide with the consultation that is to take place on the Fourth Framework Programme; - Calls on the Council and the Commission not to include the costs of the THERMIE programme in the Framework Programme, but to finance it separately as has been done in the past; - Calls on the Council to give greater priority to research as a factor in economic and social development, and recalls the 1985 Milan Summit, where it was planned to devote 6% of the general budget to research; The European Parliament therefore undertakes to organize, with the Commission, industry and research organizations, a "European Science Summit" which will consider the aims of the European research policy and the financial resources to be employed in an international context, which requires a sustained effort for the benefit of research. Other points made in the Resolution include the expression of fears that the discrepancies in the level of support for RTD between Member States will lead them to drift still further apart. Parliament also calls for the Framework Programme to be reviewed in 1996 to be adapted to the new scientific, technical and financial situation, and insists that a provision is made to review financial resources while the programme is under way. Though it is necessary to safeguard the precompetitive nature of the research activities of the Community Framework Programmes, at the same time there is an urgent need to prepare all those instruments concerned with finance, both public and private, with tax incentives and anything else which could guarantee real exploitation of the results of research by Community undertakings, in order to utilize Community investment in research and technological development and to make it genuinely profitable. Parliament also considers international cooperation to be imperative, not only with the industrialized nations but also with the developing countries. In addition, given the low level of resources available, programmes should be concentrated on main themes. It is recalled that, according to the Treaty of Union, RTD policy should be at the service of the other Community policies. The Commission is called on to take industrial policy initiatives, to be provided with specific funds (which should not lead to a reduction in the funds devoted to Community and ECSC research and development policy). The European Parliament's five-page Resolution covers a considerable number of other important points, including the availability of highly-qualified human resources, research themes adapted to the less-developed regions, stronger orientation of the Structural Funds and the Development Fund towards technologically relevant projects, revision of the rules on allocation of funds, cooperation with national research centres with a view to improving coordination of research programmes, dedication of 10% of research funds to pure research, recognition of the importance of social research, reorganization of the evaluation of Community RTD policy, closer coordination of the policies of research and of the regions and development, scientific monitoring of all Community policies, demand-led research policy (particularly in the field of information and communications technologies), and the key role in Community research of the Joint Research Centre. Emphasis is also placed on research in a number of specific areas, such as nuclear safety research, earth observation, public transport (safety and pollution prevention), regional research (Alps, Mediterranean, North Sea), and renewable forms of energy (with increased expenditure on the THERMIE programme). The European Parliament considers technology transfer and the dissemination of results to be particularly significant, above all in the economically weaker regions of the Community, and calls on the Commission to take into account these essential objectives in the planning and operation of each specific programme, and to submit proposals enabling contract research organizations to play a more important role in obtaining these objectives.

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