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Commission reply to criticism of ESPRIT, RACE and DRIVE

A written question to the Commission by a Member of the European Parliament, recently published in the Official Journal, noted that an independent report on Community RTD in the field of information and communications technologies criticizes the ESPRIT, RACE and DRIVE programm...
A written question to the Commission by a Member of the European Parliament, recently published in the Official Journal, noted that an independent report on Community RTD in the field of information and communications technologies criticizes the ESPRIT, RACE and DRIVE programmes. The report recommended that they be ended and replaced with new research efforts, though the authors did not dispute the value of some of the projects within the programmes.

The report was initiated by the Commission and undertaken by the Information and Communications Technologies Review Board, composed of representatives of a number of major companies (Fiat, IBM, Daimler Benz) and chaired by a former director of Philips. The question aimed to establish in what way the Commission would respond to the report.

On behalf of the Commission, Vice-President M. Bangemann replied that the report was transmitted to the Parliament's Committee on Energy, Research and Training (CERT) and to the Ministers for Research of the Member States. He pointed out that the Review Board analyzed the ESPRIT, RACE and DRIVE programmes and made recommendations on future Community RTD activities in these areas following the completion of the current programmes.

Mr. Bangemann stated that these recommendations had already been taken into consideration to a large degree in the formulation of the Commission's working document on the Fourth Framework Programme (COM(92) 406). In line with the findings of the Board, the RTD activities described there had a stronger demand-pull dimension in technology development, which remains more than ever necessary, but which requires clearer links to potential application, as well as concentrating on a limited number of basic underlying technologies.

Further, the concept of a best practice programme, directly inspired by the Board, had found practical expression in the proposal for launching a priority action in software engineering and best practice.

The working document referred explicitly to the completion of the RACE programme as proposed in the Board's report, since it would have successfully met its objectives in the timeframe foreseen. The Commission document also outlined the need to address new advanced topics in the field of telecommunications (as recommended by the Review Board) during the period to 1998.

The conclusions of the Information and Communications Technologies Review Board, together with other inputs, in particular the document "Europe 2000: Requirements for the Fourth Framework Programme" (drafted by a Task Force composed of industrial users and suppliers), would continue to be used in the preparation of the Fourth Framework Programme and the specific RTD programmes.

Source: Official Journal of the European Communities

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