Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Belgian position paper on the Fifth Framework Programme

The Belgian views on the Community's Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development were put forward in its position paper presented to the Commission in October 1996. The paper responds to the "Preliminary guidelines for the Fifth Framework Programme" se...
The Belgian views on the Community's Fifth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development were put forward in its position paper presented to the Commission in October 1996. The paper responds to the "Preliminary guidelines for the Fifth Framework Programme" set out by the Commission in July 1996.

The Belgian paper draws attention to the Commission's statement that "the Framework Programme accounts for only a fraction of the research carried out in Europe". This leads the Belgian authorities to two main observations:

- Firstly, that the diagnosis of problems encountered in Europe, and the subsequent remedies suggested, should not exclusively determine the structure of the Community Framework Programme;
- Secondly, that the activities undertaken within the Framework Programme need to be closely coordinated with those of Member States.

The Belgian paper recognizes the need to increase Europe's innovative capacity, as pointed out in the Commission's Green Paper on Innovation and the Action Plan for Innovation in Europe. It notes, however, that this should not automatically lead to a radical transformation of the objectives of the Framework Programme. Although the Belgian government believes that the Framework Programme can play a role in improving the use of results, it maintains that the main purpose of the Community programme should continue to be to support basic research of economic and social relevance.

In particular, the Belgian government is concerned that criteria used to ensure the industrial relevance of projects should not result in the exclusion of high-quality basic research projects. A move away from basic research to "research aimed at satisfying consumers by providing high quality goods and services" may provide more short-term results. It should not, however, lead to the neglect of basic research of industrial relevance which, the Belgian paper argues, is the basis for industrial competitiveness in the longer term.

The Belgian paper also questions the proposed restructuring of the Framework Programme, in particular the regrouping of major research themes under a reduced number of specific programmes. In this context, it notes that "although one can understand the need to limit the number of specific programmes, programmes which are too large could lead to severe management problems and to the creation of a hierarchy of committees and sub-committees, thus increasing the level of bureaucracy and decreasing transparency".

In order to increase flexibility, the Belgian authorities propose, instead, that the content of programmes be established in such a way as to allow for the integration of new themes through a simple revision of the work programme. It also proposes that the possibility of a limited financial reserve should once again be considered.

With regard to the structure of the Framework Programme, three horizontal activities are foreseen in the Belgian paper: international cooperation, the improvement of human capital and the dissemination and exploitation of research results.

With regard to SMEs, the Belgian authorities are in favour of including them as much as possible in the specific programmes where they can cooperate with larger companies, research centres and universities, rather than limiting their participation through special schemes such as CRAFT. Special provisions for SMEs should include continuously open calls, short selection procedures and a single entry point. The role of cooperative research centres should also be reinforced.

Source: CORDIS Information Collection Unit
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