Competitiveness Council agrees on Seventh Research Framework Programme

July 25, 2006

Helsinki, 24 July 2006

Political obstacles cleared in the decision-making process for the EU's Seventh Framework Programme for research

The EU's Competitiveness Council succeeded in reaching a political agreement on the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research at an extraordinary meeting held in Brussels on 24th July 2006.

The Chairman of the Competitiveness Council, Finnish Minister for Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen, was pleased with the meeting's outcome: 'I consider this a crucial step in the decision-making process for the next multiannual Framework Programme for research. We took a slight risk in deciding on the organisation of an extraordinary meeting but it was worth it. The Council demonstrated a genuine will to come up with solutions and I would like to thank my colleagues for their efforts.'

'I am particularly pleased with the fact that the line which the Finnish Presidency has adopted in promoting the EU's innovation policy is bearing fruit. The FP7 for research forms a part of the longed-for concrete measures in realising the Lisbon agenda. It is the chief instrument for funding European excellence and innovation and one of the key elements of promoting European competitiveness during Finland's Presidency,' Minister Pekkarinen concluded.

The achieved agreement on the Framework Programme means that decision-making process for FP7 will proceed as planned, enabling the European Parliament to commence the second reading in autumn. The outlook for reaching agreement on the issues concerning FP7 by the end of the year, with the consequent launch of the programme at the beginning of 2007, is positive. The Council convened in the spirit of goodwill, succeeding in finding answers to the remaining challenging questions. The outcome is that FP7 will now be able to fund stem cell research, subject to strict ethical principles, regulations and methods. Stem cell research, especially when cells are derived from human embryos, touches on extremely sensitive ethical questions, whilst researches are facing growing expectations to find cures for difficult diseases.

The dispute concerning nuclear research has also been solved in a manner that was satisfactory to all Member States. The decision limited the European Union's Joint Research Centre's (JRC) role in the Generation IV International Forum to cover safety and safeguard aspects of innovative fuel cycles.

You will be able to watch the public part of the meeting, including the press conference, on the Finnish Presidency's website at www.eu2006.fi/webcasts.

Further informationMauri Pekkarinen, Minister for Trade and Industry, tel. +358 9 1606 3500Eeva-Liisa Kortekallio, Senior Adviser, MTI, tel. +358 50 369 7602Janne Känkänen, Commercial Counsellor, MTI, tel. +358 50 434 4930Petteri Kauppinen, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Education, tel. +358 40 520 0702Marko Ruonala, Press Counsellor, Finland's Permanent Representation in the European Union, Brussels, tel. +32 4757 52072Satu Ikäheimo, Communications Officer, MTI, tel. +358 50 431 6519

The open session and the press conference of the Council were webcast: http:///mfile.akamai.com/19548/live/refle ctor:59775.ram?prop=e

Press conference (webcast)

Finland's EU Presidency
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