LONDON The negotiations on the EU's largest funding instrument for R&D, the seventh Framework Programme (FP7), concluded successfully in Brussels today (Dec 19) with the Council of Ministers agreeing the £36 billion (around $70billion) programme.
The Council's agreement is the final step in the process following the European Parliament's second reading of the proposals on Nov 30.
“Today we have reached a final agreement on the whole package of the 7th Framework Programme. It ensures that this crucial funding programme for R&D is ready for business on the 1 January 2007, said Malcolm Wicks, the U.K.'s Science Minister.
“Key features include the establishment of a European Research Council, based on the principles of autonomy and excellence; an allocation of 65 percent of the budget to industrial, user-driven research; and dedicated budget lines for policy research,” said Wicks.
FP7 will run from 2007-2013 and has a more straightforward structure than the previous Framework Programme. It consists of four chapters: cooperation; ideas; people and capacities. The first two will fund research, while the last two will build up the EU's tangible and intangible research capacity with read across to the changes outlined in the Structural Funds regulation.
The EU Framework Programme represents the third largest item in the EU budget and the last four-year programme supported approximately 5,000 U.K. participants.
European Technology Platforms will play a key role in determining the research agenda, in order to ensure it is relevant to business' needs. The major new additions to this area are the Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs). The six areas suggested for JTIs are innovative medicine, nanoelectronics, embedded systems, aeronautics and air transport, hydrogen and fuel cells and global monitoring for environment and security.
The budget is greater than previous Framework Programmes to encourage the mobility of researchers and more emphasis is given to industry-academic transfers.
Calls for proposals under FP7 are expected in the next few days and negotiations on the JTIs will take place throughout 2007.