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Multiannual Framework Programme 2002-2006 of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities aimed at contributing towards the creation of the European Research Area

The 6th Framework Programme was adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council in June 2002 with a budget of 17.5 billion euro.
Comprehensive details on all the developments concerning the framework programme, as well as a detailed budgetary breakdown, can be found on the CORDIS FP6 Web service at:
The Sixth RTD Framework Programme (FP6) is the main financial instrument to contribute to the creation of a genuine European Research area by structuring and strengthening it. FP6 is intended to foster scientific excellence, competitiveness and innovation through the promotion of better co-operation between universities, research centres and industry, both in the EU and in non-EU countries (especially candidate countries). The ultimate goal of the European Research Area is the integration of the EU's research at local, regional, national and international level
The Framework Programme is divided into two main Specific Programmes, the first of which, 'Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area', contains both solution-oriented key actions and horizontal actions to strengthen European research. The Second Specific Programme aims at 'Structuring the European Research Area'.

In addition to these two main programmes, three other Specific Programmes cover JRC (Third and Fifth Specific programmes) and EURATOM activities (Fourth).

Specific Programme: Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area

This Specific Programme, which represents the bulk of research activities, aims at focusing, integrating Community research and strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area.

_Focusing and integrating Community research

In order to maximise efficiency and to avoid spreading research efforts too thinly, the first block of activities is based on seven key actions, which have been chosen on account of their potential to create "European added value".

The seven thematic priority areas are:
- Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health;
- Information society technologies;
- Nano-technologies and nano-sciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials, and new production processes and devices;
- Aeronautics and space;
- Food quality and safety;
- Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems;
- Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society.

In addition to these seen areas, FP6 includes an eighth traditional sector of research on nuclear safety, in line with the EU's responsibilities under the Euratom Treaty.

The programme makes funding available for new emerging technologies and needs, as well as specific support for SME activities, thus complementing the activities carried out under the priority thematic areas.

Three types of actions will be supported:

- Policy oriented research and leading edge topics. This involves research helping the formulation and implementation of Community policies as well as research in new areas with the potential of opening new fields for European science and technology, including NEST (New and Emerging Science and Technologies)

- Specific research activities for SMEs. 15% of the total budget of the first Specific Programme has been earmarked for SMEs. Mechanisms will guarantee the participation of SMEs in the Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects, but in addition to this, specific schemes for SMEs in the form of actions on collective research and co-operative research will be set up. These will target innovating SMEs who do not have the means to fund their own research.

- Specific international co-operation activities aimed at gaining access to foreign technologies and know-how, ensuring EU participation in international research initiatives and lend support to the EU's foreign and development aid policies (e.g. water, environment and health issues for Euro-Mediterranean countries, stabilisation of R&D potential in Russia and the CIS countries, etc.)

_Strengthening the foundation of the European Research Area

This target aims to simplify and streamline the implementation arrangements.

- Support for the co-ordination of activities;
- Support for the coherent development of policies.

This part of the Programme supports benchmarking activities, joint studies (e.g on obstacles to mobility) and the generation of statistics and indicators on science and technology in the EU to help create the basis for a coherent policy framework. The Framework Programme would also favour closer co-ordination with other EU or transnational research projects such as ESA, EUREKA, COST or the European Science Foundation (ESF). This should translate into the creation of joint structures to co-ordinate R&D activities.

Specific Programme: Structuring the European Research Area

Efforts in this area are aimed at attacking structural weaknesses of European research and at
enhancing stronger links with national, regional and other European initiatives in the field of research. There are four areas of activity under this Specific Programme.

_Research and Innovation:
The actions here serve to reinforce the links between research and innovation. The main focus of the activities lies on stimulating technological innovation and fostering the transfer of research results for the creation of innovative technology businesses. Activities under this heading will encourage the co-operation of actors, especially at transregional level. The purpose is also to experiment with new innovation concepts and methods and to improve or set up innovation systems and technological intelligence - including CORDIS or the network of Innovation Relay Centres.

_Human resources and mobility:
The mobility of researchers increases the transfer of knowledge and the dissemination of R&D results. FP6 pursues a systematic approach aimed at creating networks and fostering the mobility of researchers in order to support the development of excellence and to make Europe more attractive to third country researchers. Therefore, the Marie Curie fellowships, the 5th Framework Programme's highly successful mobility programme, have been doubled in size.

_Research infrastructures: The framework programme aims to create mechanisms to formulate coherent strategies to develop research infrastructures, i.e. facilities and resources that provide essential services to the research community in both academia and industry. This involves ensuring that European researchers have access to the necessary infrastructures and supporting the enhancement of existing and the development of new research infrastructures.

- Science and society:
Public acceptance of scientific and technological innovation can be fostered through an informed dialogue between researchers, industrialist, political decision-makers and citizens. FP6 aims to promote scientific education and culture and to bring science and science policy closer to the citizen. Another objective is to put responsible science at the heart of policy making.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the programme. It will submit regular progress reports have an independent assessment carried out of the implementation of the activities undertaken prior to submitting its proposal for the next framework programme (FP7)

FP 6 is open to the participation of:
_ The EEA countries, in accordance with the conditions established in the EEA agreements;
_ The central and eastern European candidate countries (CEEC),
_ Turkey,
_ Switzerland and Israel, on the basis of bilateral agreements to be concluded with these countries.

The Framework Programme will imply two main means of action: Focused Action in priority research areas and promoting the networking and Joint Action of national and European frameworks for research and innovation.

The Community's financial contribution to the new multiannual programme will be carried out through a wide range of instruments.

Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area:

Under the Focused Actions, the emphasis is put on larger projects of longer duration, which need more decentralised management procedures. FP6 has therefore introduced two new instruments": "Networks of Excellence" (NoE) and "Integrated Projects" (IP). Both are set up following calls for proposals, and designed to ensure a strong degree of managerial autonomy for the consortia which implement them.

_Networks of Excellence (NoEs) are multipartner projects aiming at integrating, at EU level, research activities that exist at both national and regional level. Assembling the 'critical mass' of expertise and resources is the rationale behind the creation of this instrument.

NoEs are organised around a core of participants to which others may be added. There must be at least three participants from three different Member States or Associated States of which at least two are from Member States or Associated Candidate States. However, as a general rule there should be a minimum of six participants. Different minimum numbers may be specified in the calls for proposals.

The activities undertaken by NoEs are often multidisciplinary in nature and orientated towards long-term objectives rather than precise predefined results.

NoEs will be applied in the seven priority thematic areas. They may also be used in research areas supporting policies and anticipating scientific and technological needs. They carry out research activities, activities destined to increasing the networking and the joint planning of the members research and exploitation of results, dissemination activities, including training and services to support technological innovation in SMEs. Some of these activities are carried out through public calls for applications.

NoEs receive a financial contribution, paid on an annual basis and calculated on the basis of the joint programme of activities.

_Integrated Projects (IPs) are designed as large-scale activities and preferably conducted as public/private partnerships, which help mobilise significant resources around specific objectives. Each IP aims at obtaining identifiable scientific and technological results applicable to products, processes and services, with clearly defined objectives.

All activities carried out in the context of an IP are defined in the general framework of an "execution plan" comprising research, management and technology analysis and assessment. IPs must contain a research component and may contain technology transfer (especially SMEs) and dissemination activities as well as perhaps a training component. The size of such projects may vary and the combined activities could represent a sum anywhere between several million to several tens of millions euros.

There must be a minimum of three participants from three different Member States or Associated States of which at least two are from Member States or Associated Candidate States. Different minimum numbers may be specified in the calls for proposals. However, in practice, substantially more participants are expected to participate in IPs.

IPs will be applied in the seven priority thematic areas and may also be used in the research areas supporting policies and anticipating scientific and technological needs.

The Community contribution is part of a financing plan, which may involve recourse to other financing schemes, in particular Eureka, the EIB or the EIF. It may amount to up to 50% of the total project budget, broken down into budgets per activity and paid annually.

_Specific Targeted Research Projects (STREPs) are highly focused research projects used in implementing the priority thematic areas, in other areas supporting Community policies, in specific international co-operation research activities and in research activities developing harmonious relations between science and society

_ Specific research projects for SMEs can take the form of either Co-operative Research Projects (a limited number of SMEs from different countries with specific needs outsource the required research to an RTD performer, while retaining ownership of the results) or Collective Research Projects (form of research undertaken on behalf of industry associations to expand the knowledge base of large communities of SMEs).

_Actions to promote and develop human resources and mobility (Marie Curie actions) provide possibilities for individual researchers as well as institutions acting as hosts for these researchers. The actions typically require transnational mobility: a researcher can thus not apply for a fellowship in their country of origin or residence.

_Co-ordination Action (CAs) are designed to promote the networking and co-ordination of research and innovation activities, through conferences, meetings, exchanges etc.

_Specific Support Action (SSA) complement the implementation of FP6 and intend to help prepare future EU RTD activities. They are designed to promote the dissemination, transfer and exploitation of programme results and to contribute to strategic objectives.

_Programmes implemented jointly by several Member States require co-operation at national level to integrate whole national or regional programmes on a particular topic.

Structuring the European Research Area:

A number of different schemes was set up, each with a specific vocation, distinct from the activities implemented within other parts of the Framework Programme:

_in the area of "Research and innovation": experimental projects relating to innovation aimed at experimenting with new innovation concepts and methods and validating and disseminating them on a European scale;
_in the area of "Science and society": specific targeted projects in order to carry out research or demonstration activities;
_in the area of "Research infrastructures": integrated initiatives relating to infrastructure, combining activities that are essential for strengthening and developing research infrastructures for the provision of services on a European scale;
_in the area of "Human resources and mobility": mobility and training actions implementing certain Marie Curie activities such as research training networks, conferences and training courses and individual training fellowships.

The following actions apply to all areas of FP6:

_ Specific Targeted Innovation Projects (STIPs) are used in activities exploring, validating and disseminating new innovation concepts and methods at European level.

_ Integrated Infrastructure Initiatives combine activities to reinforce and develop research infrastructures in order to provide services at European level.