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  Based on a proposal by the Commission the Ministers of the Twelve
  have just adopted several new multiannual research programmes on
  materials and the environment.  The themes, priorities and
  resolutely transfrontier approach that characterize these new
  programmes are very representative of the kind of research and
  technology initiatives that the Community will be taking in the
  near future.  They give a concrete idea of the contents of the
  enhanced Community research policy, shortly to be implemented by
  the research framework programme (1987-91) that the Commission is
  currently preparing under the authority of Vice-President NARJES.
  Multiannual research programme on materials (raw materials and
  advanced materials (1986-89)
  This 70 million ECU programme is designed to cover the whole
  cycle of materials: prospecting and extraction of ores, wood
  production, preparation of materials, and recovery and recycling.
  The most innovative part relates to new materials: the EURAM
  programme (European Research on Advanced Materials). European
  industry is lagging behind somewhat in developing the
  sophisticated materials (light alloys, ceramics and composite
  materials) essential to progress in many areas of technology:
  electronics, computers, telecommunications, the motor industry,
  aeronautics, biomedical technologies, etc.  The aim of the EURAM
  programme is to generate a European production capability for
  these materials which at present it has to import or in certain
  cases manufactures under non-European licence.
  The research covers materials such as magnetic iron-neodymium-
  boron alloys. Based on relatively easily available and
  inexpensive metals, these alloys are designed for making
  permanent magnets to replace electromagnets in many applications.
  For example, they will soon be appearing in many electrical car
  parts: the starter motor, alternator, windscreen washer, etc.
  They also point to the future of medical imaging using nuclear
  magnetic resonance (NMR), an imaging technique that produces a
  cross-section like a scanner, which is currently under
  development.
  The EURAM programme also covers research into ceramics designed
  for the future generations of internal combustion engine, in
  particular the "adiabatic" diesel engine that runs at a constant
  temperature of 1 500 C, needs no cooling, and will be 30-40% more
  efficient than present diesel engines.
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  The work will also tackle many types of composite materials.
  These are made, for example, by combining synthetic resins with
  carbon or glass fibres; they are used mainly in aeronautics to
  make non-load-bearing parts.  They are also found in the building
  industry, medicine, as "bio-materials" used to make artificial
  hip joints, for example, and in the motor industry which plans to
  make carbon-fibre transmission shafts, etc.
  All this research is of a highly interdisciplinary nature since
  it simultaneously calls upon chemists, solid-state physicists,
  crystallographers, etc.  Each country has its strong points,
  which is another reason for carrying out such research at
  Community level, as is the need to prepare standards at European
  level in these high-technology fields.
  Alongside the EURAM programme, the programme on materials (1986-
  89) includes three other parts.  The first concerns mineral raw
  materials.  It comprises research into prospecting techniques
  (geophysical or geochemical techniques, remote sensing), into
  mineral processing as well as into mining technology, for example
  application of robotics in mines.  Part two covers research on
  advanced technologies for recycling non-ferrous metals (nickel,
  chromium, tungsten, aluminium, zinc, etc.) and urban,
  agricultural and industrial wastes.  The aim of these two
  subprogrammes is to strengthen the competitiveness of the
  European mining and metallurgical industries and at the same time
  reduce the vulnerability of the Community with respect to a range
  of raw materials of strategic interest.
  The fourth part of the programme concerns wood, a raw material
  which the Community imports in large amounts, despite having
  considerable resources.  The research covered by this part of the
  programme aims to improve productivity of European timber
  resources, in terms of quantity and quality, for example by
  applying biotechnologies for the genetic improvement of
  cultivated trees.  The research also covers the use of wood as a
  structural material and as a source of fibres in paper production
  and products for the chemical industry.
  Multiannual research and development programmes on environment
  protection, climatology and major technological hazards (1986-90)
  If there is one field which by its very nature calls for
  international cooperation it is the environment.  Pollution, as
  we all know, knows no boundaries.  For many years now the
  European Community has endeavoured to apply a coherent and
  comprehensive environment policy, a policy based on intensive
  research into environmental problems.  In fact, only research can
  provide the information required both to devise detailed
  legislation and to develop technical means of preventing and
  correcting the harmful effects of human activities on the
  environment.
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  The three new programmes adopted for the 1986-90 period, which
  will cost a total of 75 million ECU, are part of this research
  effort.  The first and most important of these programmes
  concerns the protection of the environment as such and includes
  an extensive range of research projects on current problems and
  on the long-term prevention of the harmful effects of pollutants
  on health and the environment, quality of water, air and soil,
  noise pollution, protection of animal species, clean technologies
  and the like.
  The list of projects includes work on the problem of forest
  dieback and air pollution (acid rain).  The Commission is very
  much aware of the serious consequences acid rain could have if
  not tackled swiftly and has therefore decided to intensify
  research in this field.  Although some aspects of the phenomenon
  have now been explained, there is still a long way to go before
  it is perfectly understood.
  Another problem being investigated is toxic and dangerous waste.
  Taking a technical approach, the programme includes projects
  designed to devise methods of treating and recycling industrial
  wastes.  Since considerable progress has been made in many
  sectors covered by the programme, research is reaching a fairly
  sophisticated level.  One example is research into the effects of
  pollutants on health and the environment, where efforts are being
  made to determine the impact of small concentrations of different
  substances (heavy metals like lead or cadmium, synthetic organic
  substances, etc.) on human health and ecosystems.
  The second programme is a programme of research on climatology.
  It is a direct continuation of the previous programme since the
  main topic is study of the impact on the climate (temperature,
  rainfall, etc.) of human activities (clearing forests,
  accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere as a result of the
  widespread use of fossil fuels, etc.).  The programme also
  includes research into climatological by significant processes
  and the impact of climatic changes in Europe.  By its very
  nature, climatology is a matter for transfrontier research.  It
  also involves many different disciplines: studying the
  accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, for example, involves
  palaeoclimatology, glaciology, biology, chemistry, oceanography,
  agronomy and meteorology.  It is therefore a field where
  cooperation at European level is obviously essential and is
  likely to produce some very interesting results.
  The programme of research on major technological hazards sets out
  to improve understanding of processes and to develop methods for  preventing major accidents of chemical or petrochemical origin of
  the kind which have recently had tragic results in Mexico and
  Bhopal.  Research concentrates chiefly on modelling and here
  again efforts involve a number of different sectors and
  disciplines.
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  Previous Community research programmes on the environment have
  provided the scientific basis for a number of Community
  environmental protection directives.  They have also provided a
  wealth of information on the behaviour and effects of different
  pollutants.
  Many practical results have been achieved, e.g. the ECDIN  database on chemical substances which affect the environment, the
  Mark 13-A combustion gas desulphurization process, various
  "clean" processes for the paper and textile industries, and so
  on.  The new programmes will continue to push forward the
  frontiers of knowledge and to improve or increase the number of
  these clean processes.
  As a result of environmental action by the Community in the past,
  experts in all the various disciplines concerned with the
  environment have become accustomed to exchanging information and
  cooperating at European level.  These three new programmes should
  help to encourage this cooperation, which can be very beneficial
  in all areas, but is particularly necessary for environmental
  research.

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