Broad backing for 7th framework research programme (Codecision, 1st reading)

五月 31, 2006

Brussels, 30 May 2006

In a vote on Tuesday 30 May, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy broadly threw its weight behind the Commission's proposals on the future of European research and development for the period 2007-2013. MEPs endorsed the overall structure of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which will consist of four specific programmes covering a number of thematic areas.

Budget

The committee passed an amendment to bring the budget of the programme into line with the agreement on the Financial Perspective: the seven-year programme will have a budget of â'¬50,524 million compared to the â'¬72,726 million originally proposed by the Commission. In further amendments to the first-reading report by Jerzy Buzek (EPP-ED, PL), Members modified the allocation of these funds among the different parts of the programme in line with their preferences.

Support for SMEs, young researchers and women

MEPs are keen to increase the involvement in FP7 of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs), and to boost the position of young researchers and women in science.

For SMEs, one way is to ensure that they gain better access to pre-funding. If SME-specific instruments should become oversubscribed, MEPs want the financing of the various FP instruments to be reviewed with the aim of directing funds towards the instruments that are in demand.

Other amendments were adopted to encourage young researchers and support the early stages of their scientific careers, and to introduce measures to reduce the "brain drain" such as reintegration grants. MEPs also want to see efforts to bring more women researchers into the programmes.

Real autonomy for European Research Council

Members welcome the proposed creation of a European Research Council - a new instrument to support investigator-driven “frontier research” - but want to be sure it enjoys real autonomy. They suggest it should initially be set up as an Executive Agency and - after a brief transition phase - become an independent structure. The Commission is therefore asked to present a proposal to Parliament and Council, under the codecision procedure, to "implement the ERC as a permanent, legally independent structure ". By 2008, says the committee, an independent review must be carried out of the ERC's structures and mechanisms, following which the structures and mechanisms of the ERC could be modified.

To avoid top-heavy administration, MEPs adopted an amendment calling for administrative and staffing costs for the ERC to account for not more than 3 % of the annual ERC budget.

Ethical questions

Turning to ethical issues, Members argue that FP7 must not finance research aimed at human cloning for reproductive purposes, research intended to modify the genetic heritage of human beings which could make such changes inheritable or research intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research or the purpose of stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer.

However, research on the use of human stem cells, both adult and embryonic, may be financed depending both on the contents of the scientific proposal and the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved. As regards the use of human embryonic stem cells, the institutions, organisations and researchers must be subject to strict licensing and control in accordance with the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved.

Priorities for financing under FP7

A wide range of amendments deal with the nine thematic areas which are broadly defined in the Commission's proposal. MEPs support the selection of these nine thematic areas but wish to broaden and clarify the Commission's definitions. They also add for each of the areas a number of activities which they feel merit Community support. Lastly, MEPs want to split the area "security and space" into two separate headings. Thus the following ten areas would be funded via FP7:

- Health
- Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Nanosciences, Nanotechnologies, Materials and new Production Technologies
- Energy
- Environment (including Climate Change)
- Transport (including Aeronautics)
- Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities
- Security
- Space

Review

The Industry Committee wants the Framework Programme to be continuously and systematically reviewed. It says the Commission should not carry out just one evaluation - in 2010 - but at least two interim assessments (in 2009 and 2011). Specifically on ethical questions, MEPs say the research fields must be reviewed in the second phase of FP7 in the light of scientific progress.

Euratom Framework Programme

The committee adopted a second report by Mr Buzek on the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007-2011). The overall budget of this programme will be â'¬51 million, compared to the original Commisson proposal of â'¬3092 million.

The report on FP7 was adopted with 36:7:2 votes. The report on the Euratom Framework Programme was adopted with 33:4:1 votes.

30/05/2006
Committee on Industry, Research and Energy
In the chair: Giles Chichester (EPP-ED, UK)
Procedure: Codecision, 1st reading
Plenary vote: June, Strasbourg

European Parliament
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