FP6 hits new hitch

August 16, 2002

The roll-out of Europe's €16.2 billion (£10 billion) Sixth Framework Programme on research has hit a last-minute hitch.

European Union institutions take August off, but the new Danish presidency wants the Council of Ministers to strike an agreement on a system to monitor the ethics of framework programme projects that might prove controversial, such as stem-cell studies.

This would allow the formal adoption of the new research programme. It was this ethical issue that threatened to derail the process earlier this year.

A compromise devised by the previous Spanish presidency appeared to have saved the day. But now national governments are arguing over the implementation of this deal, delaying final approval.

A Danish government statement said this was "overdue", adding that the "FP5 expires by the end of the year and implementation of the new programme must be thoroughly prepared by both the European Commission and member states to ensure its success".

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