EU firms up plan for FP7 spend

December 1, 2006

The European Union's seventh framework programme (FP7) is in its final stages of discussion, with the prospect of greater emphasis on research projects that will generate economic growth.

The European Commission hopes that FP7 will help European industry to compete internationally and develop its role as a world leader.

The European Parliament was expected to give the programme its second and final reading on November 30 and the EU Council of Ministers on December 5.

The launch is on January 1, ushering in increased EU research spending until 2013.

FP7 is set to command a €50.5 billion (£34 billion) seven-year budget (plus another €2.7 billion for Euratom research on nuclear energy).

Assuming these figures stand after the last formal votes, this will be a 41 per cent a year increase over its predecessor.

The largest share of this budget will go to targeted research, with the commission issuing regular calls for proposals, describing the studies it wants to fund. The funding will cover projects on transport and aeronautics (€4.1 billion); socioeconomic studies and humanities (€610 million); space (€1.4 billion); security (€1.3 billion); health (€6 billion); food and biotechnology (€1.9 billion); environment (€1.8 billion); energy (€2.3 billion); nanotechnology (€3.5 billion); and information and communications technology (€9.1 billion).

The commission will set out its plans proposals in its annual work programmes. These have yet to be set, and universities and research institutions will be consulted as Brussels officials draw them up.

Grants from the new European Research Council are a key element of FP7. Its scientific council has finalised the first draft of its 2007 work programme on promoting cutting-edge research. Two types of grant will be available: the "Advanced Investigator Grant" and the "Starting Independent Researcher Grant".

The calls for proposals, which include detailed instructions on how to apply for money, will feature on websites including: http:///ec.europa.eu/dgs/research/tenders/index_en.html ; and http:///cordis.europa.eu/news/calls_en.html . More details at http:///erc.europa.eu/index_en.cfm?p=6_whatsnew

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