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Brussels, 20 July 2006
The Competitiveness Council will meet in extraordinary session on 24 July 2006 in Brussels, under the Chairmanship of Mauri Pekkarinen, Finnish minister for Trade and Industry. The Commission will be represented by Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. There is only one agenda item. The meeting starts at 11.00, and a press conference is provisionally scheduled by the Council for 13.00. The meeting will be broadcast as a web stream on the Council website.
Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development
The Council will aim to come to a political agreement on the text of the Seventh Research Framework Programme. By doing so, it will be possible to keep to the timetable of adoption of the Seventh Framework Programme by the end of 2006. The Council’s agreement will be taken on the basis of the amended proposal published by the Commission on 28 June, which took into account previous agreement in the Council (the “General Approach”) and the first reading in the European Parliament.
The Council’s Common Position will go very much in the direction of the Commission’s amended proposal. One or two points remain where the Council and Commission have slightly different views. These include SMEs, where the Council wishes to include a target for SME participation, and has proposed extending the scope of the programme to include “Exploratory Awards” for SMEs. The Commission believes that measures to encourage SME participation should be undertaken within each theme, as the level of participation varies across the programme, and that the “Exploratory Awards” will take scarce resources which are best concentrated on financing projects.
The Council will also take a position on the treatment of ethical issues within the Programme and in particular the rules to govern the conditions for research using human embryonic stem cells.
The Seventh Framework Programme is based on two different treaties: European Community (EC) for all non-nuclear research, and European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for all nuclear research. The EC Framework Programme is decided by qualified majority, whereas the Euratom treaty is decided by unanimity.