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The Specific Programmes under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

Commission Européenne - MEMO/05/335   21/09/2005

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MEMO/05/335

Brussels, 21 September 2005

The Specific Programmes under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development

The Co-operation Programme

The Co-operation programme is designed to establish European leadership in key scientific and technological areas by supporting cooperation between universities, industry, research centres and public authorities across the European Union as well as the rest of the world. The Commission is proposing an amount of €44432 million[1], about 60% of total proposed FP7 expenditure. The programme focuses on nine themes, corresponding to the major fields of progress in knowledge and technology where excellent research must be strengthened to address European social, economic, environmental and industrial challenges. These are:

Health, where the objective is to improve the health of European citizens and increase the competitiveness of European health-related industries and businesses, while addressing global health issues including emerging epidemics. Emphasis will be put on “translational research” (turning basic discoveries into clinical applications), the development and validation of new therapies, methods for health promotion and disease prevention, diagnostic tools and technologies and efficient health care systems. The amount proposed in this area is €7350 million.

Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology, where the objective is to build a European knowledge-based bio-economy by bringing together science, industry and other stakeholders. The aim will be to exploit new and emerging research opportunities that address social and economic challenges: the growing demand for safer, healthier and higher quality food, taking into account animal welfare and rural contexts; the sustainable production and use of renewable bio-resources; the increasing risk of epizootic an zoonotic diseases and good-related disorders; threats to the sustainability and security of agricultural and fisheries production resulting in particular from climate change. The amount proposed in this area is €2170 million.

Information and Communication Technologies, where the objective is to improve the competitiveness of European industry and enable Europe to master and shape the future developments of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to meet the demands of both society and economy. Activities will strengthen Europe’s scientific and technology base and ensure its global leadership in ICT, help drive and stimulate innovation through ICT use and ensure that ICT progress is rapidly transformed into benefits for Europe’s citizens, businesses, industry and governments. The amount proposed in this area is €11197 million.

Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies, where the objective is to improve the competitiveness of European industry, ensure its transformation from resource-intensive to knowledge-intensive, by generating breakthrough knowledge for new applications at the crossroads between different technologies and disciplines and concentrate its capabilities on high-added-value products and technologies to meet customer requirements, as well as environmental, health and other societal expectations. The amount proposed in this area is €4270 million.

Energy, where the objective is to transform the current fossil-fuel energy system into a more sustainable one based on a diverse portfolio of energy sources and carriers combined with enhanced energy efficiency, to address the pressing challenges of security of supply and climate change. The amount proposed in this area is €2590 million.

Environment, including Climate Change, where the objective is to promote sustainable management of the natural and human environment and its resources by advancing understanding of the interaction of the bio-sphere, ecosystems and human activities and developing new technologies, tool and services to address global environmental issues in an integrated way. Emphasis will be put on prediction of climate, ecological, earth and ocean systems changes, on tools and technologies for monitoring, prevention and mitigation of environmental pressures and risks, including to health and the sustainability of the natural and man-made environment. The amount proposed in this area is €2240 million.

Transport, including Aeronautics, seeking to develop integrated, “greener”, “smarter” and safer pan-European transport systems for the benefit of the citizen and society, respecting the environment and natural resources, and securing and developing the competitiveness and leading role of European industry in the global market. The amount proposed in this area is €5250 million.

Socio-economic sciences and the Humanities, generating in-depth, shared understanding of complex and inter-related socio-economic challenges facing Europe, such as growth, employment and competitiveness, social cohesion, sustainability, quality of life, education, cultural issues and global interdependence, in particular with a view to providing an improved knowledge case for policies in the fields concerned. The amount proposed in this area is €700 million.

Security and space, where the objectives are two-fold. On the one hand to develop the technologies and knowledge to ensure the security of citizens from threats such as terrorism and crime, as well as from the impact and consequences of unintended incidents such as natural disasters or industrial accidents, while on the other to support a European Space Programme, focussing on applications such as Global Monitoring for Environmental Sustainability with benefits for citizens and industry. The amount proposed in this area is €3500 million.

The Co-operation programme will focus on collaborative research, that is, fostering the creation of excellent research projects and networks able to attract researchers and investment from across Europe and the entire world. This collaborative research will primarily take the form of collaborative projects, networks of excellence, coordination and support actions. In addition the Co-operation Programme proposes two new instruments to support research and development in Europe:

Joint Technology Initiatives, which will, in a limited number of cases, support the creation of long-term private/public partnerships. These JTIs will mainly result from the work of European Technology Platforms, to combine private sector, national and European financing. The criteria for selection of JTIs include: demonstrated added value of intervention at European level; a clear objective; financial and other resources committed by industry; clear impact on growth and competitiveness; contribution to broader policy objectives; capacity to attract other funding; inability of other existing instruments to achieve the objective.

Risk Sharing Finance Facility, which will take the form of a grant to the European Investment Bank, which will be use to cover part of the risks associated with loans to research and development actions, which is inherently riskier than some other economic activities.

The Co-operation programme is designed to make it easier than in the past to focus on priority scientific areas which cut across several themes: an example could be marine sciences and technology (food and environment). The programme is also designed with enough flexibility to allow it to meet emerging needs that cannot be foreseen now, for example arising from scientific or technological breakthroughs. It will allow research on topics identified by researchers to develop new scientific and technological opportunities, assess new discoveries or newly-observed phenomena, and focus on specific objectives in emerging fields of science and technology that promise major advances. It will also have the flexibility to respond to new policy needs that arise during the course of the programme, such as new epidemics, emerging concerns in food safety, or responses to natural disasters.

The Ideas Programme

The Ideas programme will establish a European Research Council (ERC), a pan-European mechanism to support the truly creative scientists, engineers and scholars, whose curiosity and thirst for knowledge are most likely to make the unpredictable and spectacular discoveries that can change the course of human understanding and open up new vistas for technological progress and solving enduring social and environmental problems. The key principles for the operation of the ERC will be scientific autonomy and excellence. The ERC, with a proposed budget of €10483 million, will consist of a Scientific Council, composed of 22 eminent scientists from across Europe and from many different disciplines. The Scientific Council will be supported by an implementation structure, responsible for all aspects of administrative implementation and carrying out the work programme. This structure will implement the evaluation procedures, peer review and selection processes according to the principles established by the Scientific Council and will ensure the financial and scientific management of grants.

The People Programme

European science can only be as good as the people carrying it out. It is for this reason that the European Commission proposes allocating a significant amount of the Seventh Framework Programme – €6300 million– to measures that will develop Europe’s researchers both qualitatively and quantitatively, which will be known as ‘Marie Curie Actions’. It will build on the significant positive experience of previous such programmes. Actions supported by the People programme will include: initial training of researchers, through a networking mechanism focused on the first four years of their careers; life-long training and career development, through individual fellowships, co-funding regional, national or international programmes; creating closer links between industry and academia, through secondments, hosting programmes, workshops and conferences.

There will also be a significant international dimension, with outgoing international fellowships, return and reintegration grants for European researchers, incoming international fellowships and international partnerships. The People programme will be supported by actions that seek to remove obstacles to moving within the EU and enhance the career perspectives of researchers.

The Capacities Programme

The Capacities Programme aims to develop the resources available to Europe’s research community, so that it can operate in the best possible conditions. Measures to achieve this include:

Development of research infrastructures (large-scale research facilities such as super-computers, libraries, networked databases, testing facilities, observatories), so that European scientists remains at the forefront of advances in research. (€3500m)

Strengthening the innovative capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises and their ability to benefit from research, by helping them outsource research, increase their own research efforts, extend their networks, make better use of research results and acquire necessary technological know-how. (€1680m)

Development of Regions of Knowledge, to strengthen the research potential of the regions by bringing together regional authorities, universities, research centres, enterprises and other interested parties. (€140m)

Unlocking the research potential of the EU’s convergence and outermost regions, to stimulate their greater participation in EU research activities. Such measures could include twinning, networks for exchanging know-how and expertise, secondments, acquisition of research equipment, awareness raising activities. (€490m)

Bringing science and society closer together, to counter the lack of public participation in the setting of priorities, and the perceived isolation of the scientific world from everyday realities of life. Objectives include strengthening and improving the European science system, including access to research results and the link between science and policy-making, promoting better understanding of issues that have an impact on society’s perception of science, such as ethics, law, culture, improving the gender dimension of research, attracting more young people into science, and supporting the effective two-way communication between scientists and the general public. (€490m)

In broader terms, support can be given under this programme to the coordination of Member States’ research policies, in particular with a view to putting into practice the EU’s growth and competitiveness agenda.

Joint Research Centre

The European Commission’s Directorate-General Joint Research Centre will receive funding amounting to €1617 million from the Seventh Framework Programme to provide customer-driven scientific and technical support to the EU policy-making process, helping in the implementation and monitoring of existing policies and responding to new policy demands. The JRC’s major customers are Commission services (policy DGs), other European institutions such as the European Parliament, EU agencies and Member States.

The JRC will organise its work along four main themes:

  • Prosperity in a knowledge-intensive society
  • Solidarity and the responsible management of resources
  • Security and Freedom
  • Europe as a World Partner

Euratom activities

For reasons stemming from the legal set-up of the EU, all nuclear research and training activities are funded under two separate Specific Programmes, under the Euratom treaty. These activities will be carried out by both the Joint Research Centre and the research community in general and concern nuclear waste management, environmental impact and basic knowledge; nuclear safety and nuclear security, fusion energy research and research on nuclear fission and radiation protection. The total amount proposed for such activities is €2800.

Common themes and issues

The Commission will be responsible for ensuring the coherence of these Specific Programmes. There are a number of aspects that will reinforce the operation of all the Specific Programmes as part of an integrated European programme of research.

Joint calls for proposals, where actions have strong relevance to different parts of the Co-operation, People and Capacities programmes, or across different themes within the Co-operation programme.

International co-operation will be a specific theme of the Capacities programme, with an allocated €315m, but it will form a part of all programmes, and all will have dedicated actions in this field.

The ethical framework for the Specific Programmes is an issue of great importance for the European Commission. All Specific Programmes contain clauses making clear the necessaity to operate with respect for fundamental ethical principles and existing international law and conventions in this area. Human cloning for reproductive pruposes, research activity to modify the genetic heritage of human beings, the creation of human embryos for the purpose of research or stem cell procurement are explicitly ruled out. No research can be financed by the Framework Programme in a particular country that is contrary to the laws of that country. Further more projects that raise any ethical questions are submitted to a rigorous 4 stage process before being funded (national ethical review, European scientific review, European ethical review and consideration by a Committee of Member States). A fuller explanation of the ethical implications of the Commission’s proposals can be found in MEMO/05/121.

SME participation will be a major priority of the new programme. In addition to the specific actions in the Capacities programme, SME research interests are included throughout the Co-operation programme and will be identified in more detail in the work programmes and calls for proposals. The People programme will have a special emphasis on involving personnel from SMEs. The streamlining of the programmes and the funding instruments should also boost the participation of SMEs.

Dissemination and knowledge transfer: efforts to improve the take-up of research results are a key feature of all the Specific Programmes, with emphasis on transfer of knowledge across national borders, different disciplines, and between academia and industry.

Simplification – making the programmes more accessible and user-friendly – is a major priority for the Commission. The most improvements can be made at the level of the rules of participation, which will be proposed by the Commission later this autumn. But a number of improvements are already possible at the level of Specific Programmes, such as: improved efficiency through the management of administrative tasks by an outside agency; streamlining of the funding schemes available to participants, principles established for evaluation criteria; streamlined systems for the approval of projects; clearer programme architecture.

See also IP/05/1171 and MEMO/05/336


[1] All figures in this document are expressed in 2004 prices. The figures in the texts adopted by the Commission are adjusted for inflation over the seven year period.


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