Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

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CORDIS focus returns to regular fortnightly publication after a gap of four months due to administrative reasons. Much has changed over the past few months, and this editorial aims to outline some of the major developments.

A new European Parliament was elected in June, and t...
CORDIS focus returns to regular fortnightly publication after a gap of four months due to administrative reasons. Much has changed over the past few months, and this editorial aims to outline some of the major developments.

A new European Parliament was elected in June, and the balance has tipped from the Socialist Group to the centre-right European People's Party, with Parliament's new President - French MEP, Nicole Fontaine - coming from the EPP group. Research matters will now be the responsibility of a large Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, which should ensure research is considered in a wider context by MEPs, but runs the risk of reducing the time available to cover research. The new Committee is chaired by Carlos Westendorp, a former Spanish Minister and High Representative in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Almost the first task of the new Committee was to conduct hearings of the nominee Commissioners in its field. Romano Prodi's Commission was approved by the Parliament after a hearings process which generated huge media interest and much political bluster, but at the conclusion, Prodi and his team received a large majority. Taking office on 17 September, the arrival of the new Commission puts to an end months of uncertainty since the last Commission resigned en masse.

The Fifth Framework Programme has so far spent most of its life overshadowed by this uncertainty, but nevertheless has generated thousands of proposals. Hundreds of independent evaluators have been reviewing these proposals over the summer and the Commission is now close to taking decisions on the first batches of projects to be funded. For those consortia offered funding by the Commission, CORDIS has set up a new 'Contract Preparation' domain on the FP5 Information Service (http://cordis.europa.eu/fp5/cont-prep.htm) which provides easy access to the model contracts and other documents required to finalise contracts for EU research projects.

With the results of the first calls in the offing, attention is now turning to the revision of the work programmes for each specific programme, with the External Advisory Groups discussing possible developments over recent months as well as studying the responses to the first calls.

Also over the summer the various Association Agreements concluded with European countries have come into force, with the result that the Fifth Framework Programme now effectively covers almost all of Europe up to the borders of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Balkan states. An agreement with Switzerland was also signed in June, but this is not expected to enter into force until January 2001, since it is part of a package of deals which will take some time to ratify.

We would remind readers that the content of CORDIS focus is largely taken from the on-line CORDIS News service, available on the Web and updated daily. News articles from the last four months may all be found on-line, while the development of the issues outlined above and others may be followed on-line. In the next few months CORDIS will be developing a new and improved News service, designed to be more attractive and user-friendly.

Once again we regret any inconvenience caused to readers by this break in publication, and look forward once again to providing a useful service to our readers.

Source: European Commission, CORDIS Management

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