Brussels, 12 Dec 2003
The European Commission announced on 11 December the funding of 32 cross-border initiatives under the ERA-NET scheme of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
Projects have been selected for funding in areas including the coordination of emergency medical response across Europe, the continent's ageing population, and Baltic marine science. The initiative is intended to encourage close, long term links between national research programmes with common goals.
'The core message of the European Research Area [ERA] is to overcome the traditional fragmentation of research efforts in Europe through better coordination and cooperation,' said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin.
Explaining the rationale for the ERA-NET scheme, Mr Busquin said: 'Up until now, there has been little cooperation between research projects funded by the national research bodies. As a result, key resources were wasted through duplication, dispersion and overlapping; and bigger projects were often not undertaken due to the inability to gather the necessary critical mass.'
Initially, ERA-NET projects will map out current research funding programmes, and build up mutual understanding and trust through regular workshops. This will lead to the identification of gaps, overlaps and possible synergies, and lay the ground for longer lasting cooperation in the form of joint research programmes, and the reciprocal opening of national research programmes to researchers from other EU Member States.
Addressing medical emergency response, the HESCULAEP project brings together 13 partners from health ministries and agencies, as well as emergency service operators and hospitals.
There are around 100 million medical emergencies every year in the European Union, and the infrastructure for responding varies between countries. Concerns about bio-terrorism and new diseases such as SARS have made preparation for threats at a transnational level appear more relevant.
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