The European Commission has declared itself encouraged by the response to the first calls for proposals under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), after it received over 100,000 project submissions. The balanced distribution of responses across all thematic areas and funding instruments, as well as the generally high quality of proposals, was particularly pleasing, according to a Commission statement. The relatively low level of industrial participation in Networks of Excellence (NoEs) was less welcome, however. Some submissions revealed that the purpose of NoEs was not yet clear to all partners, said the Commission, adding that it would take active steps to ensure a better understanding. 'The strong and balanced response to these first calls for proposals is encouraging: it shows that the European scientific and business community is vibrant and willing to pool resources at the European level,' according to Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. In total, nearly 12,000 proposals from 50 countries were received in relation to the first five billion euro tranche of FP6 funding. This high level of interest is expected to ensure that it will only be possible to fund around one in six proposals overall. At least one partner from the acceding and candidate countries was present in nearly 40 per cent of proposals. The Commission is already taking steps to increase the number of projects coordinated from these countries in the next round of calls, and is also considering the publication of a dedicated call for candidate and acceding states. Despite the fact that FP6 represents one of the biggest research funding programmes in the world, Mr Busquin stressed that however good the response, it alone could not make the vision of a European Research Area a reality. '[O]ur research funding scheme, although important, only represents five per cent of overall European research spending. It is for EU Member States and industry to join forces and overcome the present fragmentation of resources,' the Commissioner concluded.