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Research Ministers discuss Fifth Framework Programme

The Council of Research Ministers of the European Union met in Luxembourg on 7 October 1996. Chaired by Mr. Pat Rabbitte, Irish Minister for Commerce, Science and Technology, this was the first of two Research Councils scheduled to be held during the Irish Presidency of the Co...
The Council of Research Ministers of the European Union met in Luxembourg on 7 October 1996. Chaired by Mr. Pat Rabbitte, Irish Minister for Commerce, Science and Technology, this was the first of two Research Councils scheduled to be held during the Irish Presidency of the Council.

Ministers held a first exchange of views on the Fifth RTD Framework Programme, based on the Commission's initial discussion paper, published in July 1996, and on a questionnaire from the Presidency. A number of key areas were identified for further discussion:

- The possibility of concentration on fewer themes of a more strategic nature;
- The introduction of more flexibility in the programme;
- Better coordination between the Framework Programme and other Community and national programmes;
- Further development of international cooperation in RTD.

Mr. Rabbitte concluded that the Ministers "all agreed that it was necessary to adapt European research with a view to the challenges of tomorrow while building on successes to date". The Council will return to discussions on the Fifth Framework Programme at its meeting on 5 December 1996, by which time the Commission will have published a more detailed working document.

As regards the financial supplement to the Fourth Framework Programme, the Council was unable to reach a decision on this matter, since the Council of Finance Ministers has not yet reached agreement on the Commission's proposals for reallocation of the financial perspective. Ministers agreed to reexamine this question at the next Research Council, in the light of the budgetary situation.

The Council also adopted conclusions on bovine spongiform encephalopathies (BSE or "mad cow disease"), in which the Commission is called upon to take the necessary measures to significantly improve cooperation and coordination of research efforts, as well as the exchange of information, in the field of BSE. Mr. Rabbitte stated that the Community "must reinforce coordination of the research community's efforts, especially in regard to the transmission of the infection and its diagnosis". This question will be reexamined at the December Research Council, on the basis of a communication from the Commission, and a report from the high-level scientific group chaired by Dr. Weissman, an Austrian scientist.

Finally, Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research, education and training, gave Ministers a brief report on the consultation process on the Green Paper on Innovation, published in December 1995, and undertook to prepare a working document for discussion at the December Research Council.

Source: Council of Ministers of the European Union
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