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Commission justifies use of Article 169 to Council and Parliament

The European Commission has submitted a communication to the Council and the European Parliament proposing the application of Article 169 in the next framework programme and justifying the implementation of this new tool. The possibility of using Article 169 arose following a...

The European Commission has submitted a communication to the Council and the European Parliament proposing the application of Article 169 in the next framework programme and justifying the implementation of this new tool. The possibility of using Article 169 arose following a request by the Lisbon European Council that the Council, the Commission and the Member States 'develop appropriate mechanisms for networking national and joint research programmes on a voluntary basis around freely chosen objectives'. Article 169 opens up the possibility for the Community to make provision, in implementing the Framework Programme, for 'participation in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States'. The idea is to provide open, flexible support for proposals making an effective contribution to closer coordination of the research activities conducted within different frameworks in Europe. The Commission believes that, in specific areas, broad coordinated mobilisation of community and national efforts is especially necessary, and should therefore be encouraged by Community funding. It is also felt that application of Article 169 will make it possible to achieve results unattainable with the other two instruments because of the scale and diversity of the resources mobilised and the structural effects of combining the national efforts. Joint implementation of research programmes would be ensured with the aid of a joint work programme. This joint implementation should also have a clear structuring effect on the research activities concerned, since these conditions would make it possible to achieve results which would be unattainable if the programmes were implemented separately. Referring to the fields to be covered by Article 169, the Communication states that 'the themes must necessarily be important enough to generate large scale activities in several Member States'. At least three different countries (Member States or associated countries), including at least two Member States must participate in each such project. The Communication makes it clear that the Community must participate in projects if the partners are to receive Community funding. The Community would be involved in defining and monitoring the implementing strategy, but not in day to day management of the activities. The conditions under which Community funding would be granted remain to be decided, although three strategies are outlined in the document: - the same set percentage of the total budget for the jointly implemented programmes in every case; - a contribution set in absolute figures, taking account of the amount allocated to the area concerned in the Framework Programme and of the proportion of that area covered by the activities planned; - an amount to cover the costs directly linked to joint implementation of the programmes and calculated on the basis of those costs. Themes where the application of Article 169 are suggested as areas which are linked to needs which, by nature, call for a coordinated response, such as clinical trials on vaccines and medicinal products, areas which have long been covered by structured programmes, such as global change, themes which reflect emerging research topics, industrial technology fields in which major efforts are being made to achieve European integration, such as aeronautics and areas which are linked to the needs of Community policies, for example water resources in the case of environment policy. The Communication states that it is up to the research community in the Member States to decide how much use should be made of these two possibilities and for which themes in the Framework Programme.