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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. - 2 - 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. - 3 - 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. - 4 - 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.