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Commission proposes to stimulate research in five key areas

The Commission has put forward a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision aimed at stimulating research and technological development in five areas that it considers a priority for the competitiveness of the European Union. The proposal requests that funding the...
The Commission has put forward a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision aimed at stimulating research and technological development in five areas that it considers a priority for the competitiveness of the European Union. The proposal requests that funding the European Framework Programmes (Community and Euratom) be re-examined in light of the priority areas identified:

- Aeronautics;
- Clean cars;
- Multimedia educational software;
- Multi-mode transport;
- Environmentally friendly technologies.

The Commission argues that these are areas which have a high job-creation potential and, since the technologies associated with them benefit many sectors of the economy and regions of Europe, require special and urgent measures.

The proposal has been presented by Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, Mr. Martin Bangemann, Commissioner for industrial affairs and information and telecommunications technologies, and in agreement with Mr. Neil Kinnock, Commissioner for transport. If adopted the proposal will result in increased financing for the Commission Task Forces set up in these areas.

The Council Decision adopting the Fourth Framework Programme provides the possibility for increasing the budget allocated to the programme in mid-1996. In light of this, the Commission is suggesting that the budget be increased by ECU 700 million and distributed between the various areas mentioned above.

With regard to aeronautics, the foreseeable developments in this area justify a special effort. Air traffic is likely to double over the next 15 years and the potential market is estimated at over 17,000 new aircraft, or an investment of some ECU 1,000 billion. The 7,000 enterprises directly involved in aeronautics (only 40 of which are classed as "large") employ some 400,000 people. Successful industries must be able to produce aircraft which are powerful, safe and environmentally friendly.

Research work on educational multimedia software will tackle the coordination of Community programmes and their complementary relationship with national initiatives. In particular, this coordination will cover the specific programmes on "Telematics Applications" and "Information Technology". It will also extend to non-research programmes covering multimedia (such as MEDIA II and INFO 2000), or education and training (such as SOCRATES and LEONARDO DA VINCI). European schools - numbering 350,000, with 67 million pupils and 4.5 million teachers - represent the main outlet for educational multimedia.

The car of the future will essentially be a cleaner and more economical vehicle. The aim is, therefore, to rapidly develop cars with zero or ultra-low emissions. The stakes for jobs are high since thousands of equipment suppliers and subcontractors spread across the Union, including a great many small firms, are concerned. Special efforts will be made to improve coordination within the Fourth Framework Programme, and also with other national or EUREKA programmes.

For intermodal and interoperable transport, the aim is to overcome the obstacles to the development of intermodal transport, particularly evident in railways, by using appropriate technological solutions, including computers and telecommunications. Transport and related industries employ eight million people and represent 7% of the Union's GNP. Europe loses around ECU 120 billion a year through transport congestion.

Finally, the Commission has identified two priorities in the field of the environment: environmentally-friendly water technologies and nuclear safety. For the former, it is necessary to develop techniques for improving control of water resources threatened by human activities (urban development, CO2 and industrial and agricultural pollution). As regards nuclear safety, there seems to be a particularly urgent need to step up efforts, especially in central and eastern Europe and the CIS countries. The research work should concentrate as a priority on innovative approaches for a very high level of safety, safety of current reactors, decommissioning techniques, waste processing, impact on man and the environment, and control of hazards from past disasters. There will be coordination with the Union's assistance programmes in the Central and East European and CIS countries.

Source: European Commission, Service du Porte-parole
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