Future European Policy to Support Research - Presidency Conclusions (Extract from: Provisional Version, Competitiveness Council of 26 November)

November 29, 2004

Brussels, 26 Nov 2004

Following a wide ranging policy debate on the future of the EU funded research and the broad contours of the next Framework Programme, formal proposals for which are expected from the Commission in April 2005, a substantial majority of delegations supported the following Presidency conclusions:

"1. EMPHASISING the crucial role of research and technological development policy in the context of the Lisbon strategy and the importance of the successful realisation of the European Research Area1; RECALLING Council Conclusions of 24 September 20042 welcoming the policy debate on the future of EU research and the essential features of the future Framework Programme following the Commission's Communication of 16 June 2004;3

2. ACKNOWLEDGES the important role of national policies in realising the Lisbon goals and WELCOMES therefore the CREST report on the first cycle of the Open Method of Coordination4 concerning the implementation of the 3% action plan; STRESSES the importance of Member States' commitment to advancing and optimising this process with a view to realising the 3% Barcelona objective, recalling that two thirds of this R&D investment should come from the private sector;

3. REAFFIRMS the need to focus and integrate, strengthen and structure research and technological development at a European level as an indispensable complement to national efforts; NOTES, however, that these conclusions are without prejudice to the ongoing discussions concerning the Financial Perspectives (2007-2013);

4. STRESSES the importance of ensuring that the Framework Programme takes account of certain cross-cutting principles, in particular:

  • Research Area; Council Resolution of 22 September 2003 on investing in research for European growth and competitiveness (7379/04).
  • Council conclusions on the evaluation of the new instruments of the sixth framework programme for research, development and demonstration (2002-2006) and on the future European Union policy to support research (12898/04).
  • Communication "Science and technology, the key to Europe's future - Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research", doc. 10740/04 - COM (2004)353 final.
  • 1206/04.
    • coherence and synergy between the major lines of action of the programme, in response to the objectives set out in of the Treaty regarding research and technological development, including effective support to Community policies;
    • European added-value;
    • promotion of excellence of European research;
    • facilitation of the participation of all relevant parties, in particular SMEs;
    • coherence between national and Community R&D policies, thereby avoiding overlaps and gaps between national and European research efforts;
    • simplification, improvement and acceleration of administrative and financial procedures, and mechanisms for their effective follow-up;
    • promotion of technological innovation;
    • stimulation of knowledge diffusion;
    • monitoring and assessing the performance of the programmes, in particular regarding any new mechanisms;

    A. Transnational Collaborative Research

    5. RECALLS the need for the continuation of trans-national collaborative research to promote European competitiveness as the core component of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) ; EMPHASISES the need to further improve the implementation of the 1 Framework Programme, taking into account the needs of the various stakeholders, through better-designed instruments and though ensuring an appropriate balance between them;

    6. ENCOURAGES the Commission to identify thematic priorities for transnational collaborative research in the next Framework Programme on the basis of competitiveness and other Community policy objectives, the European research potential and European added value, as well as on the basis of experiences gained by users of FP6. Broad continuity with thematic priorities and instruments in the current Framework Programme and synergies with the other main objectives of FP7 should be ensured ; 2

    1 Recalling Article 163 TEC which reads as follows: "The Community shall have the objective of strengthening the scientific and technological bases of Community industry and encouraging it to become more competitive at international level, while promoting all the research activities deemed necessary by virtue of other Chapters of this Treaty".
    2 See Council conclusions of 24 September 2004 (doc. 12898/04).

    B. European Technology Initiatives

    7. EMPHASISES the need for initiatives to mobilise efforts to address a wide range of strategically important issues for Europe's future growth, competitiveness and sustainable development by bringing together key stakeholders1 around common strategic research agendas thus clustering R&D capacity in Europe and stimulating private-public interaction; ACKNOWLEDGES that the majority of such strategic research agendas should be industry-driven and could be supported by the existing international and Community instruments, including the Framework Programme; RECOGNISES that in a limited number of cases, more substantial public-private partnerships may be required;

    8. NOTES with interest the concepts of Technology Platforms and Joint Technological initiatives put forward by the Commission to this effect, and therefore encourages the Commission to further elaborate these concepts, in particular in relation to objective selection and decision-making procedures; STRESSES the importance of ensuring transparency and openness of such initiatives for stakeholders;

    9. ACKNOWLEDGES that such European technology initiatives may require the development of new models of collaboration; UNDERLINES that such initiatives could contribute to coordinating overall European research efforts with a view to achieving synergies with the activities of existing schemes such as EUREKA and COST, taking into account their important contribution to R&D;

    C. Basic Research at European Level

    10. REAFFIRMS the importance of high quality basic research in the next Framework Programme, while maintaining an appropriate balance and interaction with its other objectives;

    11. ACKNOWLEDGES in particular the case for funding investigator-driven basic research, with a view to supporting research in Europe so as to achieve the highest levels of excellence and creativity. European basic research should achieve maximum visibility, by encouraging more competition on the basis of excellence in a wide range of sectors and disciplines, including social sciences and humanities2 and in new and interdisciplinary areas;

    1 These will include industry - large, medium and small, embracing the entire production and supply chain -, national and European public authorities, academia, the financial community, regulators, consumers and representatives of civil society etc. Particular attention should be paid to access for SMEs. 2 See also Council conclusions of 11 March 2004 on "Europe and basic research" (doc. 379/04).

    12. ACKNOWLEDGES the usefulness of examining the setting up of a new operational mechanism aimed at supporting basic research of world class quality through a system of international peer review; INVITES the Commission to develop such a mechanism, as part of its proposals for the Seventh Framework Programme, on the basis of consultations with national authorities, the European scientific community and national funding agencies. Such a mechanism, including its legal and governance structure, should take account of the following principles:

    • scientific autonomy,
    • trust and credibility,
    • complementarity with national research systems, thus avoiding the replacement of national funding,
    • transparency, efficiency and accountability,
    • flexibility and user-friendliness.
    Other issues, such as the eligibility of individual teams, avoidance of oversubscription and the management structure, would also need to be addressed.

    D. Making Europe More Attractive to the World's Best Researchers

    13 RECALLS the Barcelona European Council's goal to increase the number of researchers by 2010 and STRESSES that the European Union has to pursue a coherent strategy and develop appropriate instruments in relation to human resources and mobility in science and technology, for example by improving the European work environment for researchers and creating an attractive career path in R&D;

    14. NOTES the positive impact of the existing "Marie Curie" actions; and STRESSES the need to strengthen the attractiveness of Europe for the world's best researchers by placing emphasis on:

    • attracting young people to science;
    • the initial training of researchers;
    • life long learning and career development, e.g., through intersectorial mobility particularly between academia and industry;
    • the role and place of women in science and research;
    • the transfer of knowledge for the benefit in particular of the technologically least advanced regions and SMEs;
    • reintegration of European researchers undertaking research outside Europe;
    • the international dimension of training and mobility through increased exchanges with other parts of the world;

    E. Developing Research Infrastructures of European Interest

    15. UNDERLINES that the present actions to support existing research infrastructures, integrating activities and trans-national access to facilities should be continued and reinforced1; STRESSES the need for a strengthened European policy and coherent strategy in the field of research infrastructures, on the basis of a clear division of responsibilities between Member States and the Community, leading to economies of scale, to the encouragement of scientific excellence and to the attractiveness of the EU for top researchers;

    16. WELCOMES the development of a strategic roadmap for Europe in the field of research infrastructures and the role of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) in this context. This roadmap should describe the scientific needs for research infrastructures for the next 10 to 20 years, on the basis of a methodology recognised by all stakeholders and take into account input from relevant intergovernmental research organisations as well as the industrial community;

    17. STRESSES that this roadmap should identify vital new European research infrastructures of different size and scope2 covering all scientific areas as well as existing ones that need to be upgraded; UNDERLINES that this roadmap should be regularly updated and could be a basis for identifying projects with a high priority to be supported by the Community;

    1 Including eInfrastructures, i.e. GEANT infrastructure projects for the interconnection of electronic research networks and GRID architecture empowered infrastructures.
    2 Including medium-sized infrastructures and those in the fields of humanities and bio-informatics such as electronic archiving systems for scientific publications and databases.

    18. ENCOURAGES the Commission to explore the possibility of creating appropriate mechanisms for financing of new research infrastructures of pan European interest, taking into account the opportunities for synergy with the objectives of the Framework Programme. Possibilities of support through other Community financing mechanisms, such as the European Investment Bank, should be explored;

    F. Improving the Co-Ordination of National Research Programmes

    19. RECALLS the importance of coordination of national programmes for the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and ACKNOWLEDGES the wide interest shown in the ERA-NET scheme, and its potential for Member States and Associated States which are still in the phase of setting up national programmes;

    20. WELCOMES the Commission's intention, in the context of the FP7, to enhance the coordination of national and Community R&D activities in order to achieve greater policy coherence, notably by:

    • continuing and improving the ERA-net scheme;
    • allowing for an extension of the scheme by joint calls between national research programmes (ERA-NET-PLUS);
    INVITES Member States and the Commission to co-operate closely in identifying a limited number of areas for further application of Article 169, taking into account an evaluation of the first application of Art. 169 under the sixth framework programme;1

    21. WELCOMES the continued active involvement of CREST in the coordination of national research programmes, notably by identifying new areas where effective programme coordination could be improved as well as identifying obstacles to such coordination;

    22. INVITES the Commission to further develop cooperation and coordination with European schemes and the Union, notably with EUREKA , COST, ESF and the organizations within Eiroforum3;

    1 EDCTP Programme: European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.
    2 It is recalled that the EUREKA Ministerial Conference of 18 June 2004 also addressed this topic.
    3 Such as CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organisation), EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) and ESO (European Southern Observatory).

    G. Horizontal Themes

    23. STRESSES the importance of SMEs for European growth and competitiveness and thus the need for Member States and the Commission to enhance the effectiveness and complementarity of national and European support programmes for SMEs;

    24. INVITES the Commission to pursue, in FP7, its efforts to increase and facilitate the participation of SMEs both in overall terms, in particular through transnational collaborative research, and through specific instruments taking into account the different needs of innovation-absorbing, research-outsourcing and research-performing SMEs and ENCOURAGES the Commission to further improve the effectiveness of existing instruments and to explore the possible development of a bottom-up scheme for research- performing SMEs;

    25. WELCOMES the intention of the Commission to realise the potential of Europe as a whole in the field of R&D, by stimulating excellence and equal access, for example, by measures relating to human resources and networking. Full advantage should be taken of synergy and complementarity between research policy and the structural funds;

    26. INVITES the Commission to develop, in close cooperation with Member States, a Community strategy on International Scientific Cooperation and in that context to continue to ensure the openness of the Framework Programme to the rest of the world;

    . STRESSES the need to further develop actions encouraging closer links between science and society;

    H. Security and Space Research

    28. NOTES the Communication from the Commission "Security Research: The Next Steps"1 as a valuable contribution to the debate on the future of overall European Union policy to support research for the security of European citizens and to strengthen the scientific and technological bases of relevant European industries through security research;

    29. NOTES the Commission's intention to present, as an integral part of FP7, a proposal for a specific European Security Research Programme taking into account the results of the Preparatory Action for Security Research, the specificity of security research, the requirements of the end-user community and the need for synergy with other parts of the Framework Programme, and having noted the report of the group of personalities; RECOMMENDS that coordination be established between the relevant actions of the framework programme and those of the European Defence Agency in the field of security research, including in the space domain.

    1 12368/04

    30. RECALLS the Framework Agreement between ESA and the EC concluded in 2004, which provides the framework for an integrated development and implementation of a European Space policy;

    31. RECOGNISES the possibilities arising out of space activities to contribute to European policy objectives in areas such as the environment, telecommunications, transport as well as scientific and technological innovations. NOTES, therefore, the Commission's intention to propose R&D actions for space under FP7;

    32. STRESSES that such R&D activities should be in line with the future European Space Programme and its objectives, to be developed in the context of the EC/ESA Framework Agreement, in close co-operation with ESA and Member States;

    I. CONCLUSION

    33. URGES the Commission to bring forward its formal proposals for the future Framework Programme in early 2005, taking into account the results of the policy debate and prior consultations. Its proposals should ensure coherence and synergy between the major objectives of the Programme. They should also encompass measures to simplify, improve administrative and financial procedures."

    http:///ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pr essData/en/intm/82805.pdf

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