Brussels, 24 Apr 2006
An agreement on how the 54 billion euro budget for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) will be allocated is 'within reach', according to Austrian Minister for Education, Science and Culture, and current chair of the EU's Competitiveness Council, Elisabeth Gehrer.
Ms Gehrer spoke at a press conference following an informal meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Graz. 'Following today's meeting, I am very confident we will get an agreement among the Member States in June,' said the minister.
Under the Commission's proposal, the 'Cooperation' pillar of the programme, which will fund transnational research projects, will receive 32 billion euro. This was described as a 'good basis' by Ms Gehrer. For the 'Ideas' strand, which covers the newly created European Research Council, 7.5 billion euro has been suggested, and for the 'People' section, concerning the training and mobility of researchers, the figure of five billion has been proposed. Finally, the 'Capacities' programme, for supporting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and research infrastructure, will receive 4.2 billion euro under the Commission's proposal.
The ministers also discussed security research in Graz. 'All the stakeholders need to engage in open dialogue. The European security research programme must be continually developed,' said Austrian Vice-Chancellor Hubert Gorbach following the meeting.
Mr Gorbach pointed to Europe's Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) project as an example of collaboration in this sector, and of the importance of public funding: 'GMES is a flagship for future-oriented European space infrastructure. The strategic role of security research is equally important. In both cases, the public sector has a decisive role in determining whether Europe can be a leader in global competition,' he said.