A Commission proposal for a Council Regulation on the conservation, characterization and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture (COM(93) 337, submitted by the Commission on 7.9.1993) states, in introduction, that the Community's genetic resources in agriculture, including forestry, constitute an irreplaceable fund of biological diversity (both plant and animal genetic resources) which should be preserved. All necessary measures must be taken to conserve, characterize and utilize these resources to promote the aims of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and to safeguard biological diversity. To these ends, all forward-looking solutions which might prove necessary should be applied. The objective of effective coordination of the aims described should be to organize the work undertaken in the Member States, to utilize the results of the work effectively, to direct it towards ends compatible with the needs of the CAP, and to pool resources necessary for implementing measures responding to the needs of the European Community. These activities should take into account, where appropriate, actions undertaken in the same areas by recognized international organizations. As current national efforts appear inadequate, either because of the nature of the work itself or because the means available to the Member States do not enable them to increase efforts in the fields concerned, the Community, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, should be able to support and supplement Member States' efforts in such cases, helping them to meet the obligations of the Community to protect the environment and maintain the countryside, and to develop and implement plans for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Until the present, there has been no specific programme of Community action in this area. It is hence proposed that the most effective solution is the concertation of existing actions, and support for new high-priority actions. The proposed Regulation sets out the conditions for Community-level coordination and promotion of the conservation, characterization and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture. Topics covered include: - Information and consultation: Arrangements for the exchange of information (technical, economic and financial) and consultation between the Member States and the Commission shall be established concerning actions carried out and planned under Member State authority (the Member States shall also endeavour to do the same with regard to measures undertaken by bodies not under their authority). The Commission shall make a permanent study of the policy and trends in the subject-areas concerned in the Member States. At the same time, exchanges of information shall be organized by means of seminars, expert exchanges, study visits and scientific and technical reports. - Specific measures: The Commission shall be responsible for the coordination at Community level of certain national measures to permit the rational organization of means employed within the Community and the efficient utilization of results. It shall be responsible for the development and implementation of programmes of measures at Community level to support or supplement action in the Member States, and shall ensure that any results which could contribute to the coordination of national programmes or the development of Community-level programmes shall be made available by the most suitable means. The Commission shall also undertake the promotion and dissemination of the results of work in this field. - A programme of measures concerning genetic resources in agriculture: A first Community programme for the conservation, characterization and utilization of genetic resources in agriculture (described in an Annex to the Regulation) shall be adopted for a period of five years. The Commission shall publish public calls for proposals for measures on the basis of the programme of work established under this programme. It is proposed that the Regulation, binding in its entirety, shall enter into force on the third day following its publication on the Official Journal of the European Communities. Rules for the implementation of the five-year programme, set out in Annex I to the Regulation, cover the objectives, general provisions, technical procedures (scope and actions) and modes of participation. At present, the financial appropriation required for implementation of the programme is defined only in terms of the percentage allocation per subject-area. In general, the programme aims to set up and maintain a permanent inventory of in situ and ex situ conserved genetic material in the European Community. The objective is to reinforce the Community's efforts in conserving and documenting plant, including forest trees, and animal germplasm by harmonizing work already under way and eliminating duplication of effort. Work will proceed in logical steps (work concerning a later step will not be eligible for Community funding unless there is proof that preceding steps have been concluded). To harmonize efforts, a single database language will be used in all actions supported by the programme. For each species, the sequence established is as follows: - Creation of workplan; - Characterization of the collections; - Evaluation (secondary characterization); - Sorting of collections; - Rationalization of the collections; - Acquisition of germplasm. With regard to Step 6 (Acquisition): Collection and acquisition is limited to the continent and islands of Europe. Good collection practice will be followed and the material collected will be documented and entered into the database. Particular emphasis will be placed on the publication of information and diffusion of material resulting from the above activities. Evaluation and utilization of material stored in germplasm collections will also be supported. Eligible actions will include: Actions leading directly to the use of conserved material in agriculture; acquisition of relevant information from users and from the literature; routine evaluation of the performance of preserved material in practical conditions; routine screening of preserved material for sources of useful and relevant genes; and, recording of other non-economic characteristics that are useful operationally. Participation will be open to designated participants (i.e. those responsible for a collection open to all bona fide users, conforming to standards of good practice, in active use, and recognized for training at Ph.D. level) and to complementary participants (holding material complementary to that of the same species in a designated gene bank, participating in the work as subcontractors in collaboration with a designated participant). As this is a multidisciplinary programme, the participation of all relevant disciplines, particularly those concerned with the utilization of stored material, will be especially encouraged.