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EUREKA's Eurostars eyed as one of first Article 169 initiatives

In a roadmap published on 9 November, the Commission identified four programmes with the potential to become 'Article 169 initiatives'. One of these programmes, the EUREKA scheme Eurostars, was presented at a European Parliament hearing on 21 November.

Article 169 of the EU T...

Policy making and guidelines

In a roadmap published on 9 November, the Commission identified four programmes with the potential to become 'Article 169 initiatives'. One of these programmes, the EUREKA scheme Eurostars, was presented at a European Parliament hearing on 21 November.

Article 169 of the EU Treaty provides for the Community to support the integration of national research programmes. 'In implementing Article 169 of the Treaty, the Community goes beyond a simple coordination of research programmes in that it participates actively in a voluntary integration process (scientific, management and financial),' reads the roadmap.

Eurostars is aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) carrying out Research and Development (R&D). These companies are regarded as key innovators, but often require a financial boost in order to bring new products, processes or services to the market quickly.

According to EUREKA, Eurostars will bring together the best of three worlds: EUREKA (an intergovernmental network supporting industry-driven innovation, using bottom-up procedures); the EU's Framework Programme (committing substantial financial resources for R&D to SMEs) and national innovation and funding instruments.

Prior to the Parliament hearing, two key players spoke to CORDIS News: The Chair of EUREKA's Italian presidency Fabio Pistella, also head of Italy's National Research Council (CNR); and Italian MEP Vittorio Prodi.

'My hope is that there will be a real convergence of EUREKA's experience with the EU programmes for research and technological development,' said Mr Prodi. He referred to the European Technology Platforms, which he said had been strengthened during the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and the new Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), to be launched in FP7, which should 'take a parallel path to EUREKA'.

Mr Prodi applauded Eurostars as a way in which to bring companies together. 'I hope that by the end of the day there will be a real awareness of the value of working together. I would like to see working together become a habit,' he told CORDIS News.

Professor Pistella welcomed the use of Article 169, saying that it will be coherent with the rules agreed upon within EUREKA. He also mentioned the 'cascade of resources' that Article 169 will bring together from FP7, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the private sector and Member States.

'Remember that the Framework Programme comprises only 5% of research funding in Europe, so there is a lot of room for coordination,' Professor Pistella emphasised.

The Commission will propose Article 169 initiatives to the Council and Parliament for approval after having ensured that all parties have committed to full scientific, management and financial integration. Professor Pistella expects a proposal on Eurostars to be put forward in March or April 2007.

Other programmes identified by the Commission as potential Article 169 initiatives are:
- AAL - a joint research programme on ambient assisted living;
- Bonus-169 - a joint research programme for Baltic Sea research;
- EMRP - a joint research programme in metrology.