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Specific programme of research and technological development in the field of environment and climate, 1994-1998

Part of the First Activity of the Fourth Framework Programme, this specific programme builds on the achievements of the 1990-1994 Environment programme under the Third Framework Programme, and of other related Community actions in this area.

Targeted activities will help strengthen the scientific and technical base required to support the European Union's environmental policy, which seeks to create the conditions necessary to facilitate the transition to lasting and sustainable economic development. In particular, efforts will focus on prenormative and pre-legislative research to assist the implementation of the Fifth Community Programme of Policy and Action in relation to the Environment and Sustainable Development (1993-2000).

The programme adopts a new integrated strategy linking research on environmental protection with the socio-economic factors responsible for environmental change and the impact of that change on natural resources, society and economic activity.

To facilitate this approach, RTD actions are directed at reducing the tendencies and practices which have a negative impact on the environment, with a view to improving the quality of life and sustainable socio-economic development by enlarging the range of instruments available aimed at changing the behaviour of actors in the field. The elements to be taken into account include, in particular, the effects of industrial activity, transport, tourism, uncontrolled disposal of waste, urbanization, misuse of water, types of land use and management, and agriculture and forestry practices.

The programme will contribute to the development of new and profitable technologies, which could be applied to the design of industrial products whose manufacture and use are likely to have a reduced impact on the environment. Attention is also given to the development of technologies to treat effluent (e.g. waste water and gases emitted by fixed or mobile sources), and to the development of technologies relating to industrial waste, so as to encourage the evolution of applications to recycle products and industrial materials.

In order to support world research into the global environment, Community activities will be carried out within the framework of the European Network for Research into Global Change (ENRICH). Community RTD will also be directed in such a way as to support the objectives of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (HDP).

In addition, account is taken of the scientific requirements expressed in the setting-up of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS).

Measures are included to establish interdisciplinary regional research networks to address the distinctive problems of particular European regions (both terrestrial and aquatic).

There will be close collaboration with corresponding JRC activities and with the other specific programmes, in particular those on "Industrial and Materials Technologies", "Non-nuclear Energy", "Agriculture and Fisheries", Measurement and Testing", "Transport", Targeted Socio-economic Research", "Telematics" and "Marine Science and Technology".

Technology stimulation measures, based on the experience gained from CRAFT activities and feasibility awards, will be introduced in order to encourage and facilitate participation by SMEs in the programme's activities.
To observe the characteristics and understand the basic processes of the climate and of natural systems (continental, oceanic and atmospheric), to identify and assess the adverse effects of human activity on them and, to identify ways of preventing such effects or remedying them where this proves necessary.
Four areas:

- Research into the natural environment, environmental quality and global change:
. Climate change and impact on natural resources (basic processes of the climate system; the climate system in the past; climate variability, simulation of climate and prediction of climate change; impact of climate changes and other environmental factors on natural resources);
. Atmospheric physics and chemistry (stratospheric chemistry and depletion of the ozone layer; tropospheric physics and chemistry);
. Biosphere processes and consequences (functioning of ecosystems; alteration of processes as a result of UV-B radiation; biodiversity and environmental change);

- Environmental technologies:
. Instruments, techniques and methods for monitoring the environment (analytical and monitoring methods for certain components of the environment; procedures for the identification and study of environmental change, in particular land and coastal environments);
. Technologies and methods for assessing environmental risks and for protecting and rehabilitating the environment (methods for estimating and managing risks to the environment and to humans; analysis of the life-cycle of industrial and synthetic products; technologies to protect and rehabilitate the environment; technologies to protect and rehabilitate historical sites);
. Technologies to forecast, prevent and reduce natural risks (hydrogeological and hydrological risks; seismic risk; volcanic risk; forest fires);

- Space techniques applied to environmental monitoring and research:
. Methodological research and pilot projects (improve the European technical capability in Earth Observation (EO) data treatment and interpretation; development of applications of EO data of European interest; pilot projects to test and improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of derived information in operational environments);
. Research and development work for potential future operational activities (to ensure that space instruments of relevance to European Union policies are defined and developed to meet the requirements of existing and potential users. Completion of the development of the VEGETATION and AMAS instruments which will be considered as test cases);
. Centre for earth observation (to encourage the use of EO data through the development of a European decentralized network for space data management and access);

- Human dimensions of environmental change (socio-economic causes and effects of environmental change; economic and social responses to environmental problems; integration of scientific knowledge and economic and social considerations into the framing of environmental policies; sustainable development and technological change).
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by a committee consisting of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. A work programme will be drawn up by the Commission, detailing the scientific and technological objectives of the action, the stages in the programme's implementation and the corresponding financial arrangements. This work programme may provide for participation in certain activities within the EUREKA framework.

Calls for proposals for RTD projects are issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme. Participation in the programme with financial support is open to all legal entities regularly carrying out RTD activities in the Community or in countries with whom the Community has concluded specific agreements. To this end, the Commission is authorized to negotiate bilateral agreements with European third countries not covered by the EEA, with a view to involving them in all or part of the programme. In certain cases, the participation of international organizations may be financed on the same basis as Community organizations.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate in the indirect activities covered by the programme. It will also contribute, through its own programme of direct activities, to the realization of the RTD objectives set out in the specific programme.

The programme is mainly implemented through shared-cost activities, concerted actions, specific measures and various preparatory, accompanying and support measures.

Community support for shared-cost RTD projects does not exceed 50% of total costs. Other shared-cost activities, (e.g. networks, training, feasibility awards and accompanying measures) may receive financial support of up to 100% of either the additional costs or the total costs of the action.

Concerted actions, which consist of the coordination, particularly through "concertation networks", of RTD projects already financed by public or private bodies, may qualify for a contribution of up to 100% of the coordination costs. Concerted actions may also include the requisite coordination of thematic networks bringing together manufacturers, users, universities and research centres to work on the same technological or industrial objective through shared-cost RTD activities.

Specific measures, such as those encouraging standardization, and those measures designed to set up general service tools for research organizations, may be eligible for funding of up to 100% of total costs.

The programme budget is divided between the four main areas of the programme as follows: Natural environment, environmental quality and global change ECU 250 million; Environmental technologies ECU 133 million; Space techniques applied to environmental monitoring and research ECU 109 million; Human dimensions of environmental change ECU 40 million. This breakdown does not exclude the possibility that projects may cover several areas.

These figures include an allocation of 7.4% for staff and administrative expenditure and ECU 5 million for the dissemination and utilization of results. A sum equivalent to 5% of the overall programme budget is set aside for specific measures in respect of SMEs whilst 2% is earmarked for training activities.

A sum of ECU 320 million, representing the difference between the estimated amount deemed necessary for this programme and the total amount provided in the Fourth Framework Programme "Environment and climate" (ECU 852 million), is allocated to the "specific programme of RTD to be realized by direct actions (JRC) and scientific and technical support activities in the framework of a competitive approach".

The budget allocated to the programme may increase before the end of June 1996, in accordance with the Decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme.

The Commission will continuously review the implementation of the programme to ensure that its objectives, priorities and financial resources remain appropriate. On the basis of this review process it shall, where appropriate, submit proposals to adapt or supplement the programme.

In addition, regular assessments of the activities covered by the specific programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will carry out a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to initial objectives. A report of this final evaluation will be communicated to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.