Copenhagen, 21 Nov 2002
The Council will hold an exchange of views, on the basis of the Commission's communication, "The European Research Area: Providing new momentum - Strengthening, reorienting, opening up new perspectives", and will be called on to adopt conclusions on the subject.
The draft conclusions reaffirm the importance for the Member States and the Community of co-ordinating their research and technological development activities so as to ensure that national and Community R&D policies are mutually consistent, while fully respecting the subsidiarity principle.
The Council will have to resolve certain difficulties relating to the "open method of co-ordination" referred to in the text, as defined by the European Council at Lisbon in March 2000 as a means of achieving the objectives of the European Research Area. Some delegations fear that such a methodology may become burdensome and over-bureaucratic. The Commission's communication veers towards formalising the open method of co-ordination, and such an approach is reflected in the draft conclusions.
The initiative of creating a European Research Area (ERA) was put forward by the Commission and endorsed at Lisbon, where the objective was set for the EU to become the world's most competitive knowledge-based economy by 2010. As concerns introducing the open method of co-ordination, the Spring European Council would each year define the relevant mandates and ensure that they are followed up.
Since then, the ERA has been the subject of several Commission communications and Council Resolutions, and the recently adopted sixth Research Framework Programme 2002-06 is geared to contributing to its establishment. In its current communication, the Commission, noting its dissatisfaction with the current rate of progress, suggests reinvigorating the ERA through formal measures concerning in particular co-ordination activities.