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Brussels, 4 January 2008

Commission announces €30 million for joint research programming in metrology and the Baltic ecosystem

The Commission announced that it will contribute 30 € million to two new and important joint programming activities involving a substantial number of Member States (MS). These activities will ultimately result in a considerable number of MS organising joint calls in the areas of metrology and the Baltic sea. These actions, known as ERA-NET Plus and developed under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), will help to structure the European Research Area and enhance the scale of Europe's common research efforts. iMERA-Plus, bringing together 32 national metrology institutions, will receive €21m from FP7, with Member States contributing a further €42 to carry out research into precise and reliable measurements. The European Commission will also allocate €9 million to BONUS+, a research programme to develop an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Baltic Sea, which will involve 8 Member States that border the Baltic, and Russia. The countries concerned will contribute a further €18.7 million.

"These two initiatives involve Member States pooling research programmes in very concrete areas, with top-up funding from the European budget," said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik "They mark another step in the direction of reinforcing the European Research Area. Borders are becoming less and less relevant for research cooperation, not only between researchers but also between those who fund research. During 2008 we will be making further proposals about how Member States can work together in programming their research."

Metrology is the science of precise and reliable measurements and is crucial to the functioning of economy and society. Many areas of scientific advance – for example, the manufacture of innovative technical products, the delivery of modern healthcare, and the protection of our environment - depend on a solid metrological basis. The first of the new joint programming actions announced today, "iMERA-Plus", brings together the national metrology institutions of 32 countries to put a single European Metrology programme into action by providing their national research funding for metrology R&D through joint calls for proposals. The action will total more than €63 million, with €42 million provided by the MS themselves, and 21 € million from the FP7 budget. By bringing national programmes together, iMERA-Plus will increase the impact of national investment in European metrology R&D and tackle the areas of most pressing metrological needs identified in the European Metrology Research Programme (EMRP).

The second new action, "BONUS+", brings together the EU's eight Baltic Sea states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden) and the Russian Federation to implement the first step of a joint Baltic Sea Research Programme focusing on introducing an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Baltic Sea, designed in a preceding ERA-NET action. BONUS+, which also takes the form of a joint call for proposals, is worth more than €27 million in total of which €18.7 million is allocated by the participating funding organisations and €9 million comes from FP7. BONUS+ provides a mechanism for the EU to secure a better future for an inland sea which, since the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, is almost totally surrounded by EU Member States. The research done by BONUS+ should enhance the understanding of and predictive capacity about the Baltic Sea ecosystem’s response to past, current and future changes caused by both nature and human induced pressures. It will also highlight important linkages between environmental problems and the social and economic dynamics involved in responding to them. In turn, the research should support the formation of a basis for prudent management aimed at safeguarding the sustainable use of the ecosystem’s goods and services.

The ERA-NET scheme is designed to develop and strengthen the coordination of national and regional research programmes through two specific actions:

  • 'ERA-NET actions' - providing a framework for actors implementing public research programmes to coordinate their activities e.g. by developing joint activities or by mutually supporting joint calls for trans-national proposals.
  • 'ERA-NET Plus actions' - providing, in a limited number of cases with high European added value, additional EU financial support to facilitate joint calls for proposals between national and/or regional programmes.

Under the ERA-NET scheme, national and regional authorities identify research programmes they wish to coordinate or open up mutually. The participants in these actions are therefore typically ministries or regional authorities defining research programmes or research councils or other research funding agencies managing research programmes.

For more information on the ERA-NET Plus Actions please visit the FP7 website:]

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