Iceland has participated fully in the Community's Fourth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development according to the provisions of the EEA agreement which came into force on 1 January 1994. The Icelandic position paper on the Fifth Framework Programme presents some preliminary views and comments of a general nature concerning the Fifth Framework Programme. Iceland expresses general satisfaction with the Fourth Framework Programme. It is suggested that the Fifth Framework Programme be basically similar in structure, emphasizing generic technologies to increase competitiveness and employment and improve the quality of life in a sustainable way. The paper also expresses support for the suggestion that research be concentrated in a number of carefully selected areas, emphasizing a problem-oriented approach. The Icelandic paper stresses that special attention should be paid to the need to design more flexible and more rapid procedures for processing applications. This would benefit all participants and encourage new participation by SMEs. In this context, Iceland would welcome a strong SME-action, horizontally linked to all the relevant specific programmes. The importance of environmental research is specifically underlined. Iceland maintains that such research is fundamental for the sustainability of European industry, in particular with regard to industries utilizing biological resources and in the food production sector. It is also of importance in alleviating detrimental environmental impact and improving understanding of ecological processes. The Icelandic authorities believe that environmental research should be focused on developing the rational and sustainable use of natural resources and understanding the processes in nature which can, with or without human influence, gradually or suddenly alter the basic conditions of our industrialized society. Iceland calls for special attention to be given to the problems of exploitation and sustainable management of biological resources on land and in the ocean, specifically to enhance the ability of European industry to produce high value-added, high quality and safe products in a competitive market economy. Particular attention should also be paid to biotechnology as applied to plant and animal genetics and to human medicine and health, with special focus on genetically related diseases and viral infections, including neuro-degenerative research. The paper notes that the development, testing and adaptation of communication and information technologies should be further pursued. Iceland recognizes that both basic technologies and applications in telematics, communications and multimedia technology will be key factors in development, innovation, employment growth and international trade in coming decades. The social and economic aspects of new technologies should be given substantial attention in this context. The continuing peaceful development of European integration depends to a great extent on showing due consideration for national sentiment and appreciation for national cultural values. Iceland notes that research in this field, with special reference to the cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe, would both contribute to safeguarding this heritage and to establishing or maintaining harmony between different cultures and trends. It is suggested that this dimension be considered in all relevant fields and addressed specifically in a separate programme. The Icelandic paper further supports the continuation, and even expansion, of training and mobility programmes, with more attention paid to the possibilities of linking these with educational programmes.