Council fails to adopt the Fourth Framework Programme at meeting on 4 March The European Council, meeting on 4 March 1994, was unable to reach agreement on the European Parliament's Opinion on the proposal for the Fourth Framework Programme of research and technological development (1994-1998). At this meeting the President of the Council requested, ... The European Council, meeting on 4 March 1994, was unable to reach agreement on the European Parliament's Opinion on the proposal for the Fourth Framework Programme of research and technological development (1994-1998). At this meeting the President of the Council requested, in agreement with the President of the European Parliament, that the matter be put before the Conciliation Committee according to the procedures established in the Treaty on European Union (Maastricht Treaty). The first meeting of the Conciliation Committee, which is composed of members of the Council or their representatives and members of the European Parliament, took place on 4 March following the Council Session. A further meeting is scheduled for 21 March. Speaking after the Council session, Commissioner Ruberti said that he was very optimistic that agreement would soon be reached. He felt that there was very little difference separating the position of the Parliament and the position of the Council. In financial terms this difference represents only some 3% of the overall budget. Previous Framework Programmes have been agreed even though the decision-making process began with a divide of up to 60% between what the European Parliament wanted and what the Council was prepared to accept. He also pointed out that it is only 8 months since the Fourth Framework Programme was first proposed by the Commission. This was something of a record and, in the light of this progress, he did not see how the meeting of the Council on 21 March would fail to approve the Programme. Although slightly disappointed that the Fourth Framework Programme had not yet been adopted, he hoped that the basis for a Decision would be established on 21 March. In particular, the Council had failed to reach agreement on the proposed budget for the Joint Research Centre. The Parliament had voted to increase the budget of the JRC to ensure a more gradual transition to the new competitive role it is to assume in the future. In addition, Professor Ruberti emphasized the importance of proper coordination of national research and underpinning of the benefits of EU research for all Member States. He also stressed the importance of research for SMEs and making sure that they had access to research results. The atmosphere of the Council meeting was very cordial and constructive and this is likely to continue during the conciliation stage. Commissioner Ruberti said that the Commission would facilitate this process.