Brussels, 11 Nov 2002
The European Commissioner for Research Philippe Busquin has launched the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), and has told Europe's research community that it is up to them to make the European Research Area (ERA) a reality.
Opening the three-day launch conference in Brussels on 11 November, Mr Busquin restated the importance of FP6 in creating a European Research Area, saying that it offered a framework to optimise research efforts and overcome the fragmentation caused by national borders.
But the Commissioner warned that policies alone would not be enough. 'The European Research Area will not be created by decree. It will be created through your engagement and your work. Over the next three days, you have the opportunity to put the European Research Area into practice,' he said.
FP6 will provide 17.5 billion euro of funding to research projects between 2002 and 2006, and is the first such programme in which enlargement becomes a reality, with all Candidate Countries participating on an equal basis with EU nations.
The Sixth Framework Programme includes new instruments, such as networks of excellence and integrated projects, which are designed to increase cross-border cooperation and coordination, and contribute to realising an internal market for European research.
Mr Busquin used his speech to highlight the importance of concerted effort by all those with an interest in research in Europe to making a success of FP6. 'The Framework Programme alone will not lift Europe from the second tier of scientific powers and place her at the top. It will act as a lever of change, and requires from you all a shift in practice and a new frame of reference,' he said. 'More so than ever, we must 'think European'.'
The Commissioner finished his speech by inviting participants to use the event to explore the opportunities contained in FP6, to discuss research issues and the new instruments, and to make contact with other delegates for future collaboration.