Compromise reached by institutions on FP6

May 15, 2002

Brussels, 14 May 2002

The European Parliament has announced that its discussions with representatives of the European Commission and the Council have resulted in an informal compromise that should allow a positive vote for the Sixth Framework programme (FP6) in the Parliament's plenary session on 16 May.

The meeting between the three institutions led to an agreement by the Parliament's ITRE (industry, trade, research and energy) committee to drop previous tabled amendments and to replace them with 34 compromise amendments, which will be voted on 'en bloc'. The Council outlined in a letter on 13 May that the new package would have the backing of the necessary number of Member States, despite reservations being expressed by Austria, Italy and Germany.

The main issues tackled in the compromise are the approach to ethics and adjustments to the individual programme budgets. Increases in the budgets for life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health (55 million euro), science and society (20 million euro), information society (20 million euro) and international cooperation support measures (15 million) euro were also included in the package.

Budgetary reductions were also agreed. These were the human resources budget (reduced by 50 million), horizontal research activities involving SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) (20 million), anticipation of scientific and technological needs (15 million), research and innovation (10 million), research infrastructures (10 million) and support for the coordination of activities to strengthen the foundations of the European research area (ERA), which loses 10 million.

On ethics, the difference in opinions expressed by the Parliament and the Council were addressed by opting to extend the Commission's declaration on ethical principles. This highlighted the concerns of the Parliament, but also pleased the Council, as it is not binding on any Member State. This issue most concerned the MEPs, who felt that the lack of clarity caused by the rejection of ethical guidelines formulated in the Parliament's first reading meant that ethical uncertainty could result. Some also expressed concern that too many decisions on ethics would be made by scientists rather than politicians.

The compromise also introduces the ladder of excellence concept to allow for a smooth changeover between the instrument instruments of the present Framework programme and the next one.

MEPs welcomed the compromise. W G Van Velzen of the Netherlands claimed that it meant that the research programme was 'more coherent and consistent than had been the case in the past'. The increased focus on addressing issues close to EU citizens, such as debilitating diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's, such as environmental issues and information technology was welcomed overall by many MEPs.

Commenting on the news, both EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and Council representative Ramón Marimón claimed that the compromise was a positive step whilst recognising that the issue of ethics is a difficult one.

For further information, please consult the following web address: tre_home.htm

or contact:
Leena Maria Linnus
Tel. +32 2 42825
Fax. +32 2 284 6901

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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