Millions more Ecus could flow to special research projects under the Framework programme if the European Commission convinces ministers and MEPs that member economies are on the up-turn.
The commission wants released an extra Ecu700 million (Pounds 560 million), which has been held as reserve to the Ecu12.3 billion budget agreed last year, for Framework special projects to help European industry meet public needs.
The projects are: the car of the future; multimedia educational software; new generation software; vaccines and viral diseases; the train of the future and "intermodal" transport, which will look at ways of integrating Europe's road, rail, air and maritime transport systems to increase efficiency and safety.
The spending plans are supported by Edith Cresson, research, education and training commissioner, as well as transport commissioner Neil Kinnock and Martin Bangemann, responsible for industry, telecommunications and information technologies.
To get the money the commission will have to win over the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. It will argue that since the budget for the new Framework programme was agreed last year, there has been a general and significant improvement in the European economy, a key criterion laid down at the time of the Framework budget agreement for the release of reserve funds. The extra funds could be added to the existing Framework budget next year.
Approval for the Framework project is already well under way. Last week the commission announced funding for a batch of projects under Framework's Ecu552 million biotechnology programme. The 60 projects are worth a total of Ecu73 million and will cover areas such as new medicines, cheaper, safer more effective vaccines, treatments for certain hereditary diseases and strains of plants more resistant to diseases.
The commission also approved Ecu million for the first 44 projects in its new standards, measurement and testing research. Work includes ways of improving child safety in cars, longer lasting hip replacements, quicker microbiological testing and safer diagnostic equipment.