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EP Research Committee votes on Fifth RTD Framework Programme

The European Parliament's Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy is now close to adopting its report on the Commission's proposal for the Fifth RTD Framework Programme following extended voting sessions at its meeting in Brussels on 26 and 27 November 1997...
The European Parliament's Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy is now close to adopting its report on the Commission's proposal for the Fifth RTD Framework Programme following extended voting sessions at its meeting in Brussels on 26 and 27 November 1997. Having concluded its vote on the structure and content of the Programme, the Committee will meet on 4 December 1997 to vote on the budget for the Programme, and to adopt its report to Parliament.

Over 600 amendments to the Commission's proposal were submitted by Committee members, and in the opinions from other Parliamentary Committees, leading to the prospect of a difficult and complex vote. However, a series of compromises on the thematic programmes, and the key actions within them, were adopted by the Committee, resolving many of the points where the greatest differences existed. These compromises were drafted by the rapporteur - German Christian Democrat MEP, Mrs. Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl - in consultation with representatives from the political groups in the Committee, and received strong support across the Committee.

The Committee voted to adapt the structure of the Programme, agreeing on four thematic programmes in place of the Commission's proposal for three. The four thematic programmes and the key actions voted by the Committee are:

- I: Life Sciences and Technologies:

. 1: Health, environment and food;
. 2: Fight against transmissible and rare diseases;
. 3: "Cell factory";
. 4: Chemical and molecular biological bases;
. 5: Degenerative diseases, with particular regard to age-related illnesses and disability;

- II: Information and Telecommunications Technologies:

. 1: Systems and services for the citizen;
. 2: New methods of work and electronic trading;
. 3: Multimedia content;
. 4: Essential technologies and infrastructures;

- III: Transport - Mobility - Production:

. 1: Land and marine transport and technologies;
. 2: Aeronautics and astronautics;
. 3: Mobility and intermodality;
. 4: Products - processes - organization;

- IV: Energy - Environment - Sustainable Development:

. a: Energy for the future:
. 1: Advanced energy systems and services in the energy sector (I) - fossil fuels;
. 2: Advanced energy systems and services in the energy sector (II) - renewable energies;

. b: Environment, cultural heritage and sustainable development:
. 1: Rural and coastal areas and mountains;
. 2: Urban areas: "the city of tomorrow";
. 3: Global change;
. 4: Water management and technologies.

Within the thematic programmes, the Committee voted for a range of amendments and additions to the research areas to be addressed by the Programme, both within the key actions and in the generic research activities section. The Committee also voted for accompanying socio-economic research activities, as well as technology transfer and mobility of researchers, to be an integral part of each thematic programme.

A number of amendments relating to each of the three horizontal programmes - International Cooperation, Innovation and SMEs, and Human Potential - were adopted, although these would not substantially alter the three programmes. MEPs also addressed the table of criteria set out by the Commission to be used for selecting the themes and objectives of Community research, voting to lay down more specific objectives and conditions for giving Community support.

Within the Euratom Framework Programme, the Committee agreed that the Community should support fusion research as a key action. However, the Committee prefers to maintain European capacity in the field without the current explicit goal of beginning construction of the "Next Step" experimental reactor in the next few years.

Having completed voting on the structure and scientific content of the Fifth Framework Programme, the rapporteur and members of the Committee now have a week to finalize their positions on the overall budget and the specific programmes' budgets. The vote on the budget on 4 December will, inevitably, represent a political compromise. Parliament's priority, however, must be to agree a united position, in view of the possibility of conciliation with the Council being required to adopt the Programme. The Committee's report should then be adopted by the full Parliament in December 1997, following which the Council will then be able to adopt its common position.

Source: CORDIS Information Collection Unit

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