Policy support: Specific activities covering wider field of research under the Focusing and Integrating Community Research programme 2002-2006. The activities under this section of the programme are diverse in their subject matter, and will be implemented in such a way as to ensure co-ordination across the various topics and complementarity with the thematic priority areas. The tasks set out under each of research priorities headings often require addressing different disciplinary aspects, in view of the increasingly integrated nature of Community policies. These activities have a distinct role within the overall architecture of the 6th framework programme 2002-2006. They involve common implementation arrangements, and the necessary critical mass, to assure efficient and flexible conduct of research, which is essential to the fundamental objectives of Community research and which covers a wide range of needs that cannot be satisfied within the thematic priorities. The policy-orientated research will provide support for: - The common agricultural policy (CAP), and the common fisheries policy (CFP); - Sustainable development, in particular the Community policy objectives relating to environment, energy and transport; - Other Community policies, namely health, gender equality, regional development, trade, enlargement, development aid, internal market and competitiveness, social policy and employment, education training and culture, gender equality, consumer protection, the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice, and external relations; - Community policy objectives deriving from the political orientations given by the European Council. The multi-annual programming of these activities will take into account the opinions of the relevant Scientific Committees associated with the policies concerned. The programming will be conducted with the help of a User Group composed of different Commission Services which will assess suggestions on the basis of the following criteria: - Their contribution to policy formulation; - Their potential contribution to the EU's competitiveness, the strengthening of its scientific and technological bases and the achievement of the European Research Area, including the effective integration of the candidate countries; - European added value; - The scientific relevance and feasibility of the research themes and approaches proposed; - Assurance of an appropriate division of tasks, and synergy, between these activities and the Direct Actions of the Joint Research Centre in support of Community policies.The overall objective is to underpin the formulation and implementation of Community policies, by providing scientific contributions to policies that are targeted precisely on needs ('demand-driven', coherent across the various Community policy areas, and sensitive to changes in policies as they take place). The activities are designed to ensure: - Timely and effective scientific inputs, covering a wide field of policies and with the prospect of improved information, exploitation and uptake of results, at national and EU level; - A coherent research base that reflects the increasing integration of Community policies and of the science that underpins them; - Systematic improvements in the relationship between research and policy at all levels in the EU; - Development of the European Research Area, by encouraging a single 'playing field' in relation to policy-related research.The initial research priorities respond to immediate needs and are based on suggestions for topics made by the Commission's policy services. They are grouped within the following lines of action: 1. Sustainable management of Europe's natural resources The objectives are: a.) The modernisation and sustainability of agriculture and forestry, including their multifunctional role, in order to ensure the sustainable development and promotion of rural areas. b) Development of tools and assessment methods for sustainable agriculture and forestry management. c) Modernisation and sustainability of fisheries, including aquaculture-based production systems. d) Development of new and more environment friendly production methods to improve animal health and welfare including research on animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease, swine fever and development of marker vaccines. e) Environmental assessment (soil, water, air, noise, including the effects of chemical substances). f) Assessment of environmental technologies for support of policy decisions, in particular concerning effective but low-cost technologies in the context of fulfilling environmental legislation. 2. Providing health, security and opportunity to the people of Europe The research objectives are diverse and broad in scope. They address health application of EMF exposure, indoor air quality, reduction of noise pollution, economic valuation of health impacts, ambient air quality, risk assessment and natural disasters. They are also areas in which research is ongoing in the national and other contexts. One of the principal objectives of research activities under this heading will therefore be to bring together existing and future research results in the most important domains, interpret them and assemble coherent inputs to the relevant community policies. The objectives are: a) Health determinants and the provision of high quality and sustainable health care services and pension systems (in particular in the context of ageing and demographic change). b) Public health issues, including epidemiology contributing to disease prevention and responses to emerging rare and communicable diseases, allergies, procedures for secure blood and organ donations, non-animal test methods. c) The impact of environmental issues on health (including safety at work and methods for risk assessment and the mitigation of risks of natural disasters to people). d) Quality of life issues relating to handicapped/disabled people (including equal access facilities. e) Comparative research of factors underlying migration and refugee flows, including illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings. f) Improved means to anticipate crime trends and causes, and to assess the effectiveness of crime prevention policies; assessment of new challenges related to illicit drug use. g) Issues related to civil protection (including bio-security and protection against risks arising from terrorist attacks), and crisis management. 3. Underpinning the economic potential and cohesion of a larger and more integrated European Union The objective is to deliver realistic solutions that support policy monitoring and forecasting and facilitate/enhance the implementation of the transport and energy policy measures and instruments. Research will focus on monitoring the implementation of the European transport and energy policies through an efficient, rapid and secure access to reliable and harmonised data and enhanced forecasting tools, and assessing the impacts of individual policies and policy packages in terms of sustainability indicators and harmonised approaches. The objectives are: a) Underpinning European integration, sustainable development, competitiveness and trade policies (including improved means to assess economic development and cohesion). b) The development of tools, indicators and operational parameters for assessing sustainable transport and energy systems performance (economic, environmental and social). c) Global security analysis and validation systems for transport and research relating to accident risks and safety in mobility systems. d) Forecasting and developing innovative policies for sustainability in the medium and long term. e) Information Society issues (such as management and protection of digital assets, and inclusive access to the information society). f) The protection of cultural heritage and associated conservation strategies. g) Improved quality, accessibility and dissemination of European statistics. **Research to explore new and emerging scientific and technological problems and opportunities Research under his heading will respond to needs in new areas which fall within the legitimate scope of Community research and will also respond to unexpected major developments. By bringing together resources from across the EU, it will aim to put European research in a leading position, opening the way or creating new scientific and technological developments. It will stimulate the flow of ideas between academia and industry, and allow Europe better to exploit its research assets in the drive towards a dynamic knowledge-based society. Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of research excellence, potential for future impact and innovativeness. **Multi-annual programming Specific topics on which research will be focused during the implementation of the programme will be selected by means of a multi-annual programming on the basis of their urgency or potential for future societal, industrial, or economic relevance, taking account of the ongoing research activities. The assessment of topics will be carried out with the support of an independent consultation structure composed of high-level scientific and industrial experts and will also incorporate the following criteria: - the potential contribution of the research topics proposed for innovation and the EU's competitiveness, the strengthening of its scientific and technological bases and the achievement of the European Research Area, including the effective integration of the candidate countries; - the scientific relevance and timeliness of the research themes and approaches proposed. The programming may be altered by means of an emergency procedure based on the same evaluation criteria in the event of a crisis giving rise to urgent and unforeseen research needs. Foresight studies could also make a contribution to informing the priority setting process.The Commission is responsible for the implementation of this specific programme. It draws up a work programme for its implementation and sets out in greater detail the objectives, scientific and technological priorities and the timetable for implementation. The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. The Commission reports regularly on the overall progress of the implementation of this programme. The report will include information on financial aspects and the use of instruments. The Commission arranges for independent monitoring and assessment of the framework programme to be conducted concerning the activities carried out in the fields covered by the specific programme. The activities programmed will be carried out by means of calls for proposals, preceded, where appropriate, by a call for expressions of interest, in particular in the area of exploring new and emerging scientific technological areas. They will essentially take the form of: - Specific targeted research projects generally of a limited scale, carried out by means of partnerships of a size adapted to the needs to be covered; - Co-ordination actions, and the networking of research activities carried out at national level where the objectives can be achieved by mobilising capacities existing in the Member States, candidate countries and other associated states. In certain duly justified cases, where the objectives pursued can be better attained in this way, limited use may be made of Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects. Specific support actions may also be used to implement these activities. The proposals will be selected by the Commission following evaluation by independent experts. The activities will be implemented within a multi-annual perspective which takes direct account of the needs and viewpoints of the main associated actors. Priorities will be inscribed in the work programme for the specific programme, alongside the priorities deriving from objectives in other parts of the programme, and updated regularly. This will result in a progressive allocation of the budget relating to these activities to the specific priorities identified, throughout the period of execution. The programming will be carried out by the Commission, and will be based on suggestions received in response to a wide-ranging consultation of interested circles in the EU and the countries associated with the framework programme, regarding the topics to be included. During the implementation of this programme and in the research activities arising from it, fundamental ethical principles must be respected. These include the principles reflected in the Charter of fundamental rights of the EU, such as protection of human dignity and life, protection of personal data and privacy, and of the environment.