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Brussels, 15 July 2008

Public Research: Common problems need common solutions! Commission proposes to Member States to jointly address major societal challenges

Climate change, diseases, or energy are societal challenges shared by all EU countries. National research, which currently makes up 85% of all European public research funding, will have more impact if Member States pool their resources and better coordinate their efforts. The European Commission today proposed that Member States adopt a new approach of "Joint Programming". It aims at tackling current compartmentalisation which undermines the efficiency of Europe's research.

According to European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, "challenges such as food safety, healthcare, marine ecosystems and biodiversity, climate change and energy are not confined to Member States borders, so research should be done jointly, and not simply national. National programmes are obviously necessary; however, in certain areas of strategic public interest, they can result in duplication and may lead to a shortfall in the critical mass of resources needed to make a significant impact. As we have difficulties in increasing our research investment to the Lisbon target of 3% of our GDP, we should increase the impact of our national investments by acting jointly".

The Communication adopted today by the Commission "Towards Joint Programming in Research: Working together to tackle common challenges more effectively" proposes that Member States first identify a limited number of key challenges on which to focus their efforts, and then, agree on a common vision, develop and implement a Strategic Research Agenda for each area.

The Communication stresses that Joint Programming will be a voluntary process and need not involve all Member States in each specific initiative. It can relate to the coordination of existing national programmes, or the setting up of entirely new ones, pooling resources and collectively monitoring and reviewing progress. The Commission's role is that of a facilitator and the implementation may or not may involve Community financing. If the EU Council of Ministers agrees with the proposal, Joint Programming Initiatives should be underway by 2010.

The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan and the foreseen Marine Research Strategy provide pilot experiences for this initiative.

Commissioner Potočnik continued, "Joint Programming has the potential to become a mechanism at least as important as the Framework programmes in the European research landscape and to change the very way in which Europeans think about research."


The Communication is one of five policy initiatives planned by the Commission to follow up the 2007 Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives" and is a further step in the creation of the "fifth freedom" by removing barriers to the free movement of knowledge.

Details of all of the above are available in MEMO/08/503

Link to the full text of the Communication:

See also IP's related to the European Research Area package:

IP/08/637 on the results of the Green Paper on ERA

IP/08/555 on Intellectual property management by Public Research Organisations

IP/08/802 on European Partnership for Researchers

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