Brussels, 09 Sep 2004
The European Parliament has published the questions that it intends to put to the newly nominated Commissioners during September and October. Questions for Janez Potocnik, the proposed new Research Commissioner, address the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and its budget, the international thermonuclear experimental reactor (ITER) and the European Research Council. Illustrating how research affects a spectrum of policy areas, questions relating to research and innovation will also be put to other Commissioners.
The Parliament intends to ensure that its views are taken into account during the preparations for FP7, and will therefore ask Mr Potocnik how he intends to make certain that the Parliament is heard. MEPs will also ask for reassurance that the new Commissioner will support their proposal for an increased budget of 30 billion euro for FP7, particularly in the face of opposition from Member States.
Mr Potocnik will be questioned on his position on ITER, and especially on how he intends to secure the reactor for Europe when half of the international partners support Japan as the location.
Several questions address the transition from FP6 to FP7 and the changes that should or could be made. 'In view of the degree to which the implementation of FP6 has achieved the desired regulatory and administrative simplification, will a major revision of the financial rules be necessary in the context of FP7?' Mr Potocnik will be asked. He will also be asked for assurances that the report on the new instruments for FP6, prepared by a high level expert panel chaired by Ramon Marimon, will be taken into account. He will then be required to outline his plans for supporting smaller and weaker research entities in FP7.
Mr Potocnik will be asked for his opinions on externalised management within FP7, and for information on the Commission's position with regard to a legal framework for the future European Research Council (ERC).
Viviane Reding, who, it is proposed, will be responsible for the information society and media, will be questioned on Europe's digital divide, and in particular on whether the EU's eEurope Action Plans are addressing the problem satisfactorily. She will also be asked about initiatives to shore up the information and communications technology (ICT) industry and to make it more attractive to new entrants.
Günter Verheugen, whose proposed portfolio encompasses enterprise and industry, will field questions on the Lisbon agenda, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and the proposed new chemicals policy, REACH.
SMEs are the backbone of the economy, responsible for creating millions of new jobs and therefore vital to attaining the Lisbon objectives, MEPs will tell Mr Verheugen. They therefore want to know why little progress has been made with regard to SMEs in terms of financial support and the encouragement of entrepreneurship, as well as skills and mobility.
Responsibility for space and security research will move from the Research DG to the Enterprise and Industry DG once the new Commission term begins. Mr Verheugen will therefore be questioned on these areas, and the role that he foresees for the European Parliament therein.
Finally László Kovács, who has been nominated to take over the energy portfolio, will be asked what level of priority he intends to award research in the field of sustainable development. He will also respond to questions on how he intends to 're-orient our economy' in order to promote clean technologies, the intelligent use of energy and alternative energy.
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