Brussels, 12 March 2002
The European Research Council, meeting in Brussels on 11 March, gave a 'positive' response to a Commission target of involving businesses in achieving research expenditure equivalent to 3 per cent of GDP in each Member State by 2010.
Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said that the aim, endorsed by the European Commission, 'generally speaking met with a positive response from ministers.' Mr Busquin also thanked the Spanish Presidency for putting the issue, which he described as good news for a policy of research and innovation, on the agenda of the forthcoming Barcelona European Council in March.
The Spanish Minister for science and technology, Anna Birulés, who chaired the Council under the rotating Presidency of the EU, said that although R&D expenditure in Spain currently stands at less than half the target level, the government has taken measures to tackle the issue. She explained that the key aim is to encourage the involvement of the private sector in raising the level of national R&D investment in Europe.
Ms Birulés added that the Council also discussed ways of making progress in areas such as researcher mobility, risk capital and intellectual property rights. She said that the Council meeting had been 'very fruitful' and the ministerial debate will help progress with the Spanish Presidency aim of achieving approval for the Sixth Framework programme for research, FP6, in the first half of this year.
Commissioner Busquin also explained that a mandate for negotiations between the European space agency (ESA) and the Commission in the shape of a document to be adopted by ESA and the Commission by the end of the year, was adopted at the Council.
He added that the expert group on bioterrorism, set up following the Ghent European Summit in October 2001 to examine the state of EU biosafety research and give recommendations on any gaps which need to be bridged, will report on its findings in May. The group's report may indicate areas where further research is needed under the next Framework programme for research, FP6, he added.
A decision was also made at the Council on the number of participants in FP6 projects. He said that although the general proposal is to have a minimum of three participants per FP6 project, individual programme committees can examine where further rules are required.
For further information on the Council activities, please consult the following web address: http://ue.eu.int/en/summ.htm