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Research Council meets on Fourth Framework Programme

The Research Council, meeting within the Council of the European Communities on 29 April 1993, will debate Commission proposals concerning the Fourth Framework Programme for Community research and technological development (1994-1998). This will be a major agenda point at the ...
The Research Council, meeting within the Council of the European Communities on 29 April 1993, will debate Commission proposals concerning the Fourth Framework Programme for Community research and technological development (1994-1998). This will be a major agenda point at the meeting and significant progress is expected.

The Commission presented a first working document on this subject to the Council on 9 October 1992 (COM(92) 406). The second working document now coming before the Council incorporates the Commission's policy guidelines and spells out the implications for future Community RTD of major developments since October. These are:

- The conclusions reached by the Edinburgh European Council;
- The agreement of 15 March 1993 on supplementary financing for the Third Framework Programme during 1993-1994;
- The inauguration of the new Commission, with its legislative programme for 1993 which sets out the main thrust of its policy.

Following these events, and also taking into account developments in the world context as well as opinions concerning the first working paper, the Commission's policy guidelines emphasise:

- Greater selectivity in Community RTD activities to increase their economic impact (focus on generic technologies);
- Further integration of national, Community and European activities;
- The development of research/training synergy;
- Increased flexibility in Community activities to permit rapid response to new scientific and technical challenges;
- The alignment of financial data with the requirements of the new financial perspective for 1993-1999.

Specifically, it is proposed that the Fourth Framework Programme is to cover the entire range of Community research, technological development and demonstration under four headings (Activities), supported by a total budget for 1994-1998 of ECU 13100 million.

- First Activity: RTD and demonstration programmes, ECU 10925 million.
- Second Activity: Cooperation with third countries, ECU 786 million.
- Third Activity: Dissemination and application of results, ECU 603 million.
- Fourth Activity: Stimulation and mobility of researchers, ECU 786 million.

The First Activity contains seven themes (compared with 15 in the Third Framework Programme). These, with their proposed budget breakdown, are:

- Information and Communications Technologies, ECU 3899 million;
- Industrial Technologies, ECU 1804 million;
- Environment, ECU 970 million;
- Life Sciences and Technologies, ECU 1362 million;
- Energy, ECU 2541 million;
- Research for a European transport policy (newly introduced theme), ECU 287 million;
- Targeted socio-economic research (newly introduced theme), ECU 62 million.

The Joint Research Centre is to receive ECU 1067 million drawn from the First Activity budget (excluding transport policy and information and communication technologies) and will also participate in the Third Activity to the extent of ECU 70 million.

Selection criteria set out in the first working document have been adjusted to take account of the need to focus and integrate activities, thus reducing the total number of areas of Community action within the four Activities. Further selection within the areas of action themselves will be carried out when the Commission prepares its formal proposal, aiming to focus on mobilizing projects and integrating national, Community and European actions to a greater extent.

Higher priority is also given to the First Activity, reflecting the need to focus on generic technologies of multisectoral application.

To promote growth and reinvigorate economic and social development, a combination of knowledge plus know-how and the ability to disseminate know-how is needed. Research training activities will be carried out within the themes of the First Activity and across the board (Fourth Activity) to promote cross-frontier mobility of researchers occupied with emerging fields. These will be supplemented by education and training schemes prolonging the COMETT and ERASMUS programmes, etc.

As the present decision making system is unwieldy, new measures are put forward to enable the Community to respond rapidly to scientific and technological changes taking place between the adoption of the Framework Programme and its review after three years. These measures concern:

- Framework Programme preparatory activities;
- Limited funds within the specific programmes earmarked for unsolicited proposals from SMEs;
- Links with EUREKA;
- Built-in adaptability of work programmes.

Finally, increased financial resources are to be given to the third Activity (dissemination) and to a lesser degree to the second Activity (international cooperation) relative to funding levels during 1990-1994.

The Commission has prepared the second working paper (COM(93) 158 of 20.4.1993) in order to accelerate interinstitutional deliberations and reach a rapid agreement on the Fourth Framework Programme once the Maastricht treaty has entered into force. The adoption of the Fourth Framework Programme is scheduled to take place before the end of 1993.

Source: Commission of the European Communities

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