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Commission amends Fifth RTD Framework Programme proposal

The European Commission has revised its proposal for the Fifth RTD Framework Programme in the light of the European Parliament's amendments and the preliminary discussions held by the EU's Research Ministers. The amended proposal was adopted by the Commission, meeting in Stras...

The European Commission has revised its proposal for the Fifth RTD Framework Programme in the light of the European Parliament's amendments and the preliminary discussions held by the EU's Research Ministers. The amended proposal was adopted by the Commission, meeting in Strasbourg on 14 January 1998, on the initiative of Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, innovation, education, training and youth. The Commission has maintained the key principles in its original proposals, in particular maximizing the concentration of research efforts. The overall budget proposed for the Programme is unchanged from the ECU 16,300 million of the original proposal. With the majority of changes concerning detailed aspects of the proposal, major changes address mainly the thematic programmes. As Mrs. Cresson had said during the Parliament's debate on 16 December 1997, the Commission has taken on board a number of Parliament's recommendations in important areas. In particular, the Commission has decided to restructure the thematic programmes, creating a new fourth programme entitled "Preserving the ecosystem" which will address energy and the environment in an integrated manner. This increased focus reflects the importance of these issues in a competitive economy, as well as the significance of energy as a factor in global climate change, emphasized most recently at the Kyoto conference. Within the thematic programmes, a number of changes have been made to the key actions, responding to the views of the Parliament and Council. Two new key actions have been introduced, giving greater importance to "the ageing population" and "global environmental change and climate" - albeit that these were already identified in the original proposal. Two of the proposed key actions have been merged to create one on "health, food and environmental factors", in view of the common needs in these areas. The original key action on energy has been split in two, to take account of the differing factors relating to energy use and energy supply. Finally, the "city of tomorrow" key action will also cover cultural heritage. The structure of the thematic programmes and key actions would be as follows: - (a) Improving the quality of life and the management of living resources: . Health, food and environmental factors; . Control of viral and other infectious diseases; . The "cell factory"; . The ageing population; . Integrated development of coastal and rural areas; - (b) Creating a user-friendly Information Society: . Systems and services for the citizen; . New methods of work and electronic commerce; . Multimedia content and tools; . Essential technologies and infrastructures; - (c) Promoting competitive and sustainable growth: . Products, processes, organization; . Sustainable mobility and intermodality; . New perspectives in aeronautics; . Marine technologies; . The city of tomorrow and cultural heritage; - (d) Preserving the ecosystem: . Management and quality of water; . Global environmental change and climate; . Promoting the sustainable use of energy; . Development and supply of cleaner, more competitive and more diversified energy. The Commission has not made any fundamental changes to the three horizontal programmes, or to the Euratom Framework Programme, with their aims and content remaining essentially the same as in the original proposal of April 1997. Equally, the budget proposals for the three horizontal programmes and Euratom remain unchanged. In respect of the budget for the thematic programmes, the overall total remains the same but the divisions have been amended to take account of the additional programme: - Improving the quality of life and the management of living resources: ECU 2,650 million - Creating a user-friendly Information Society: ECU 3,925 million - Promoting competitive and sustainable growth: ECU 3,100 million; - Preserving the ecosystem: ECU 2,100 million. The next stage in the adoption of the Fifth Framework Programme will be the Council's common position. The Commission has welcomed the high priority given to the discussions by the UK Presidency which currently chairs the Council, and hopes that its revised proposal will facilitate Research Ministers in reaching agreement at the Research Council on 12 February 1998.

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