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Specific programme of targeted socio-economic research, 1994-1998

This specific programme falls under Activity I of the Fourth Framework Programme.

In line with the Commission's White Paper on Growth, Competitiveness and Employment, the research activities aim at rationalizing future decision-making at decentralized, national or Community levels in order to develop a shared knowledge base on the socio-economic challenges facing Europe. Research carried out under the programme is targeted on three areas.

Activities covering the evaluation of science and technology policy follows up on the activities of the MONITOR programme (FAST, SAST and SPEAR) and will build on the work of the JRC's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, and the VALUE, SPRINT and EUROSTAT programmes. The experience acquired from the specific programmes (evaluation of the socio-economic impact of research), which was incorporated for the first time in the Third Framework Programme, will also be harnessed.

To provide support for work in this area, provisions are made for the creation of an open information system generating and providing access to RTD statistics and indicators. This will be developed in cooperation with EUROSTAT and will be built around the data generated at the Member State, Community (EUROSTAT and the JRC's Institute for Prospective Technological Studies) and OECD levels, or by other international organizations such as UNESCO, UNIDO, FAO, etc.

All activities concerning the evaluation of science and technology policy options are based on the European Technology Assessment Network (ETAN), which will be funded from this programme. ETAN will bring together the main regional, national and European bodies involved in this area, including the European Parliament's STOA and the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment Network. This will enable the close coordination of Community research with related efforts in the Member States and, in the process, the development of a joint information and analysis infrastructure.

Activities under the second area will help to promote the development in Europe of a society in which lifelong training and education play a central role.

Research will supplement activities undertaken in the Member States and be closely coordinated with related technological research in the specific programme on telematic systems and with the SOCRATES and LEONARDO programmes. Account will also be taken of the basic data-gathering systems and analysis work conducted within the EURYDICE network and of the work of the CEDEFOP.

Research into social integration and social exclusion under the third heading is closely linked to Community initiatives, notably the new medium term action plan against social exclusion, and similar initiatives in the Member States.

The targeted research activities covered by this programme are supplemented by socio-economic research provisions contained in the other specific programmes of the Fourth Framework Programme. Under the First Activity, each specific programme must conduct an assessment of the socio-economic risks and impact of its activities. The Second Activity contains provisions covering the socio-economic conditions for international scientific and technical cooperation, whilst the Fourth Activity will cover the training and mobility of researchers in the economic and social sciences.

The programme will strive to ensure stronger synergy and support for research which extends, realizes or stimulates similar activities within the other specific programmes of the Fourth Framework Programme.

Wherever possible, research actions will allow participation by experts and working parties representing the interests of the end-users of the research results.

Close contacts will be maintained with the COST projects in the field of social sciences and with European organizations working in the areas covered by the programme.

Where appropriate, cooperation will be organized with international organizations in third countries outside Europe, e.g. the National Science Foundation or the Office of Technology in the United States and the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy in Japan.
To elucidate decision-making at decentralized, national or Community level and lay the foundation for the sustainable development of Europe's economies, enabling them to withstand international competition and create jobs.
Three activities:

- Evaluation of science and technology policy options in Europe:
Development of a common knowledge base for policy makers in the field of science and technology policy at regional, national and European level, with the ultimate objective of encouraging greater consistency and closer coordination of RTD efforts and policies in Europe:
. Analysis of the RTD situation in Europe in the world context;
. Evaluation of the inter-relations between short and medium term needs, socio-economic changes and new scientific and technological developments;
. Methods, tools and approaches;

- Research on education and training:
To support the efforts made by the Member States to strengthen the links between research, education and training and to improve their education and training systems by stepping up research, and disseminating the results and innovations which it produces:
. Effectiveness of policies and actions;
. Methods, tools and technologies - innovation and quality in formal and informal education and training (to cover new technologies in education and training and methods of learning; dissemination of innovations in teaching methods; quality of education and training systems; teachers and trainers);
. Education, training and economic development(including comparative analysis of education and training systems, adaption of training systems to economic demands;

- Research into social integration and social exclusion in Europe:
Taking account of the changes in progress throughout the European continent as a whole, the exploratory activities will concentrate on four topics:
. Forms and processes of social exclusion and integration;
. Causes of social exclusion, in particular unemployment;
. Analysis of migration;
. Evaluation of the impact of social integration policies.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme, assisted by an advisory committee consisting 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, the stages in the programme's implementation and the corresponding financial arrangements. Calls for proposals for projects are issued by the Commission on the basis of the work programme.

Financial support for participation in the programme's activities is open to all legal entities regularly carrying out RTD in the Community or in European states with whom the Community has concluded an agreement. To this end, the Commission is authorized to negotiate cooperation agreements with European third countries not covered by the EEA, with a view to involving them in all or part of the programme. Provisions are also made for pursuing cooperation within the framework of international organizations.

The Joint Research Centre will contribute, through its own programme of direct activities, to the realization of the RTD objectives of the first area covered by this specific programme (evaluation of science and technology policy options in Europe).

The financial participation of the Community in RTD activities carried out by third parties mainly takes the form of shared-cost RTD projects, concerted actions consisting of the coordination of RTD projects already funded by public and private bodies, specific measures appropriate to the characteristics of the programme such as thematic studies and schemes to provide general tools to research organizations, and various preparatory, accompanying and support measures.

Community support for shared-cost projects does not exceed 50% of total costs whilst concerted actions may qualify for a Community contribution covering up to 100% of the coordination costs. The Community's contribution covers up to 100% of the costs of both the specific measures and the various preparatory, accompanying and support measures.

International organizations located in Europe may be exceptionally funded on the same basis as Community organizations.

The programme budget is divided between the three activities as follows: Evaluation of science and technology policy options in Europe ECU 50 million; Research on education and training ECU 25 million; Research into social integration and social exclusion in Europe ECU 30 million. The breakdown between the different themes does not exclude the possibility that projects may come under several themes.

These figures include an allocation equivalent to 14.5% of the programme budget for staff and administrative expenditure and a sum of ECU 1 million for the dissemination and utilization of the results of the programme.

A sum of ECU 33 million, representing the difference between the amount deemed necessary for this programme and the amount foreseen in the Fourth RTD Framework Programme for targeted socio-economic research, is earmarked for the specific RTD programme to be carried out through direct action (JRC) and S&T support activities, in the framework of a competitive approach.

The budget allocated to the programme may increase before 30 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.