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EU News on the 7th Framework Program

by Franz Pichler

European Parliament starts hearing on Seventh Framework Program
 

On the September 12, 2005, the Industry and Research Committee of the European Parliament started its discussion of the Seventh Framework Program (FP7) on Research and Development (2007-2013) with a hearing on the planned European Research Council.

 

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Commissioner Potocnik and Professor Neher (Nobel Prize winner) defended the establishment of a list of nominees to be part of the Scientific Council of the planned Research Council. Some Members of Parliament felt offended because they had not been consulted previously about this list. Finally Ex-commissioner Busquin came to the rescue of the Commission and explained that neither the Commission nor the European Parliament was to set up the Scientific Council, but rather the scientific community itself.

Under the leadership of Ex-commissioner Chris Patten - chancellor of Oxford    University - the committee selected members of the Scientific Council according to their undisputed scientific reputation and their practical experience in managing funds. Altogether, 22 scientists were selected from all scientific fields, including experience in industry. From Austria, the committee selected Professor Helga Nowotny, known quite well to the readers of bridges.

Although the Commission would like to proceed as fast as possible in establishing an executive agency, some MEP's felt that an agency completely independent of the commission should be established following the cumbersome procedures of Article 171 of the Treaty of the EU. But insiders know that this could take years. The forthcoming Austrian Presidency is in favour of the commission's idea of starting work as soon as possible; then, two or three years later, making an in-depth analysis of what further steps are needed.

 

For further details on the European Research Council please see: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/future/basic_research/erc_ic_en.htm


Commission publishes proposals for FP7 Specific Programs
 

The European Commission has outlined its detailed plans for implementing the Seventh Framework Program with the publication on September 21st of the proposed Specific Programs.

Specific Programs have been produced for each of the four main pillars of FP7 - Cooperation, Ideas, People, and Capacities - as well as for the commission's in-house research facilities, the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The documents will be discussed with the European Parliament before a final decision is taken by the council.

 

For further details on the Specific Programs please see:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/research


UK Presidency  reached "Partial General Agreement" on the FP7
 

On November 28th the UK Presidency presented to Ministers a draft regarding a "Partial General Approach" on the Seventh Framework Program (EC and EURATOM). The Byzantine expression "Partial General Approach" means to reach an agreement between Member States on the content of the next Framework Program without having a budget; however, it includes the possibility of redrafting the text or dropping certain items of the Seventh Framework Program in case less money is available. Due to the fact that only a few outstanding questions remained, the Partial General Approach could be achieved.

Meanwhile the EP has started consultations on outstanding questions of the Seventh Framework Program such as the establishment of a European Research Council (a kind of European NSF).

 

Further details please find at:
http://www.dti.gov.uk/
http://www.ost.gov.uk/ostinternational/fp7/index.html
http://www.ost.gov.uk/ostinternational/eupresidency.html


Outlook on the Austrian Presidency
 

Under the condition that the Financial Perspectives are agreed upon within the European Council in December 2005 and accepted by the European Parliament at the beginning of 2006, Austria could reach a political agreement on the Seventh Framework Program in May 2006. This agreement would have to take into account a possible modified proposal from the European Commission - regarding a reduced budget - and the position of the European Parliament. Besides discussions with the European Parliament on the whole Framework Program, the more detailed Specific Programs and the rules for participation must also be tackled by Austria in the coming months.

Three Council meetings - March, May, and June 2006 - are projected under the Austrian presidency to enable an agreement on the Framework Program, but the budgetary question will be a decisive factor in the final outcome of our efforts.

If all goes well, the Seventh Framework Program could be adopted in the autumn of 2006.


 

   Franz Pichler



Franz Pichler is Science Attaché at the Austrian Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

 

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