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
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:
UK Presidency reached "Partial General Agreement" on the FP7
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:
Outlook on the Austrian Presidency
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 is Science Attaché at the Austrian Embassy in Brussels, Belgium.