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Specific programme of research and technological development in the field of marine science and technology, 1994-1998

The specific programme forms part of the Fourth Framework Programme, Activity I.

MAST III extends, develops and refocuses the activities carried out under its two predecessors, i.e. the pilot phase of 1989-92 and the MAST II programme 1991-94, in order to pursue earlier developments and to meet newly articulated objectives. The programme implements various provisions of the Commission's working document (COM(93) 459) and the White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment (COM(93) 700).

Through the specific activities and supporting initiatives, MAST III will help to enhance the profile and the cohesion of Europe's scientific Community, streamline the integration of national activities and those undertaken at the Union level, and promote coordinated management of the infrastructures needed in research.

Specific attention will be given to the problems of global change and coastal zone protection. Measures will be closely linked with corresponding activities under the Environment and Climate programme and in the JRC, in order to produce the necessary synergies and to highlight interactions between the major compartments of the biosphere (land, atmosphere and sea).

Community research activities into global change will be carried out within the framework of the ENRICH network and pointed in a direction which ensures that the research effort will help meet the objectives of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Programme (HDP) and certain aspects of the development of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS)

Appropriate collaboration may also take place with other international bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (ICO), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the International Commission for the Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean (ICSCM) and the NATO research centres.

In the section on marine technology, the programme acknowledges the importance of research into generic technologies and takes account of the gradual emergence of new needs, particularly in the area of ocean and coastal observation and monitoring. Enhanced synergy will be sought with EUREKA and, in particular, with the umbrella project EUROMAR.
To foster the scientific knowledge and technological development necessary to understand how marine systems function at basin scales, in order to prepare for sustainable use of the oceans and determine their role in global change.
Four research areas:

-Marine science:
To study the fundamental processes determining the dynamics of marine systems in the seas and oceans around Europe with a view to a better understanding of the marine environment and improved capability to forecast change:
. Marine systems research (focusing on the physical, biological and geological processes of marine systems and their interaction at basin scales);
. Extreme marine environments (functioning of ecosystems in extreme marine environments and the determination of their role in the global environment);
. Regional seas research (to understand the functioning of entire inland seas or specific sub-areas of the eastern North-Atlantic);

- Strategic marine research:
To study the dynamics of marine systems for application in the management of the marine environment as a resource (certain aspects of this activity will be coordinated with the Environment and Climate programme):
. Coastal and shelf sea research;
. Coastal engineering;

- Marine technology:
To promote research on generic technologies and on advanced systems (platforms and instruments), in order to improve or create new capabilities for observing, monitoring and managing the marine environment and for exploiting marine resources:
. Generic technologies (non-disturbing techniques, underwater communications and underwater viewing systems);
. Advanced systems (Unmanned platforms, oceanographic measurement and sampling equipment, biosensors);

- Supporting measures:
To improve the coordination and exchange of information amongst European scientists and to help increase the effectiveness of national and international programmes through better use of research facilities and the transfer of knowledge:
. Advanced training (fellowships, courses);
. Establishment of standards for training and work in specialized fields of ocean sciences;
. Coordination of modelling, ocean data exchange and quality control for research and operational applications;
. Coordinated use of capital facilities, including research vessels, and large computing facilities on a regional and European scale;
. Design of components and systems for heavy advanced experimental and operational equipment;
. Calibration techniques and standards for marine instrumentation and observation methods.
The Commission is responsible for the overall implementation of the programme, assisted by an Advisory Committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a representative of the Commission. The Commission will draw up an initial work programme, detailing the scientific and technological objectives of the action, the stages in the programme's implementation and the proposed financial arrangements. The work programme may provide for participation in certain actions within the framework of EUREKA. Calls for proposals will be issued by the Commission on the basis of this work programme.

The programme will be mainly implemented through shared-cost activities, concerted actions, specific measures and various preparatory, accompanying and support measures. Shared-cost activities qualify for a Community contribution of not more than 50% and cover RTD projects, technology stimulation to encourage and facilitate the participation of SMEs and, financial support for the infrastructures or installations necessary for coordinated action. Concerted actions will involve the coordination of RTD projects already funded by public authorities or private bodies. Proposals for RTD projects will generally have to provide an assessment of the potential risks of the action to the marine environment.

The programme comprises of four areas of activity. The budget allocated to the programme will be broken down between the different areas as follows: Marine Science ECU 91 million; Marine Research ECU 51 million; Marine Technology ECU 69 million; and, supporting initiatives ECU 17 million. This breakdown includes allocations of 6.9% for staff and administrative costs and a sum equivalent to 2% for training. Community funding for the operational costs of research ships and associated equipment will be approximately 5% of the total budget. A figure of ECU 2 million is earmarked for the dissemination and exploitation of results. This activity will complement the specific programme of the Third Activity of the Fourth Framework Programme, relating to the dissemination and utilization of results.

The budget allocated to the programme may be increased in 1996, in accordance with the provisions of the decision establishing the Fourth Framework Programme.

The Commission is authorized to negotiate international cooperation agreements with European third countries not covered by the EEA and with international organizations located in Europe, with a view to involving them in all or part of the programme. In order to step up the international cooperation necessary in oceanography and the major international environment programmes, the supporting initiatives and the accompanying measures may, with the exception of advanced training, be carried out in cooperation with third countries. The JRC may participate in the indirect activities covered by the programme. It will also contribute, through its own programme of direct activities, to the attainment of the programme's objectives.

The Commission will continuously monitor the implementation of the programme to ensure that the programme's objectives, priorities and financial resources remain appropriate. On the basis of this monitoring process it shall, where appropriate, submit proposals to adapt or supplement the programme. In addition, assessments of the activities covered by the programme will be conducted by independent experts who, upon completion of the programme, will conduct a final evaluation of the results achieved compared to the initial objectives. A report on this final evaluation will be forwarded to the Council, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee.