All systems go for FP7

"It's a great day", EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik told journalists immediately after the European Parliament approved amendments to the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) proposal that were drafted together with the Council.

Although the new text still requires formal approval by the Competitiveness Council, this is expected to be achieved without problems at its next meeting on 4 and 5 December. This will then enable the Commission to publish the first calls for proposals on 22 December as planned, and officially launch the biggest ever European research programme.

FP7 is divided into four specific programmes. The 'Cooperation' programme will support research cooperation in a number of specified thematic areas. 'Ideas' will fund investigator-driven research through a newly created European Research Council (ERC). The 'People' programme will support training and researchers' career development, while 'Capacities' will support the coordination and development of research infrastructure, regional research clusters, international cooperation and closer ties between science and society.

The programme's budget of €54.582 billion at current prices is a 'major improvement' according to Mr Potocnik. Of this, €50.521 billion will go to the European Community programme, and €2.751 billion to the Euratom programme (fusion energy research, and fission and radiation protection), which runs from 2007 until 2011. A further €1.31 billion is foreseen for Euratom for 2012 and 2013.

The final changes to FP7 correspond to the Parliament's priorities. Amendments submitted by rapporteur and Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek ensure that children's health, respiratory diseases, neglected diseases and fisheries will receive funding; attempt to ease the participation of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); and give increased emphasis to the scientific training role of the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

MEPs ensured that renewable energy research will be a priority by insisting that the 'major part' of the energy budget will go to renewables and end-use efficiency, with clean coal technologies and capture and storage receiving what is left.

"This sentence can only mean one thing: that the two sets of technologies will receive over half of the budget for non-nuclear research, meaning at least €1,175 million over the seven years of FP7," said Didier Mayer, President of the European Renewable Energy Research Centres (EUREC). This figure represents an increase in real terms of around 40% compared to the average amount spent on these technologies under FP6, EUREC has calculated.

The amendments also adjust the budget slightly, with three of the four FP7 pillars (Cooperation, Ideas and People) increasing their funding envelopes slightly, and the fourth, Capacities, seeing a decrease.

There is also a change to the budget of the planned Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF). The feature is intended to facilitate access to European Investment Bank (EIB) finance, allowing the funding of riskier research projects and leveraging more private funding in the process.

On the ERC, MEPs defended their request to have a mid-term review - something that the Commission was originally against - and also included an amendment to make sure that, should the structure of the Council need to be modified, it will be done in conjunction with the Parliament through the co-decision procedure. A further change increases slightly the money available for the ERC's administrative costs, from the 3% on which MEPs had previously insisted, to 5%.

Jerzy Buzek praised the quality of the original Commission proposal, saying that the parliament had changed a few things, but not the ideal behind the programme or its structure. Of 2,000 amendments from MEPs, 700 had been put to the vote, and those adopted improve the programme, he said.

Both Mr Buzek and Mr Potocnik praised the inter-institutional collaboration that made agreement possible. Mr Buzek also thanked his fellow parliamentarians for putting aside political preferences in the name of getting FP7 up and running. "I hope that this will be a principal for future discussions in the Parliament," he said.

One may be inclined to think that with the launch of FP7 now imminent, those that designed it will be looking forward to a well earned break. Messrs Potocnik and Buzek were far from giving this impression on 30 November.

According to Mr Buzek, "We haven't finished yet. The work starts today." The next step is to implement the programme, he said. And then, "We have to convince national governments, policy-makers, researchers, society that this is a good programme. We have to breathe new life into European research."

For Janez Potocnik, FP7 has undoubtedly been his biggest project since his appointment as Science and Research Commissioner in 2004. The programme may now be all but implemented, but that does not mean that his work is done. "This is a non-stop, constant journey," he said.

The Commissioner's focus is now longer term. He told journalists on 30 November to look out for a new debate on the European Research Area (ERA) in 2007. Then in 2009 there will be a debate on the financial perspectives of the European Union. 'This will be connected with the debate on the future of Europe. We have to be prepared,' he said, prepared to illustrate to policy-makers exactly how important investment in research is for Europe's competitiveness.

For further information on FP7, please visit:
http://cordis.europa.eu/fp7

Copyright ©European Communities, 2006
Neither the Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, nor any person acting on its behalf, is responsible for the use, which might be made of the attached information. The attached information is drawn from the Community R&D Information Service (CORDIS). The CORDIS services are carried on the CORDIS Host in Luxembourg – http://cordis.europa.eu. Access to CORDIS is currently available free-of-charge.

Most Popular Now

Open Call HORIZON-MISS-2022-CANCER-01-04…

The overall goal of the Mission on Cancer[1] and the Europe's Beating Cancer Plan[2] includes a better quality of life for patients and their families living with, and after, cancer. Project...

Researchers Use AI to Predict Cancer Ris…

An artificial intelligence (AI) tool helps doctors predict the cancer risk in lung nodules seen on CT, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology. Pulmonary nodules appear as...

Insilico Medicine Raises $60 Million in …

Insilico Medicine, a clinical-stage end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, announced today that it has completed a $60 million Series D financing from a syndicate of global investors with...

Speech Analysis App Predicts Worsening H…

A voice analysis app used by heart failure patients at home recognises fluid in the lungs three weeks before an unplanned hospitalisation or escalation in outpatient drug treatment. The late...

Siemens Healthineers and Penta Hospitals…

Penta Hospitals International, the largest multi-national hospital chain in Central and Eastern Europe, agreed a strategic partnership with Siemens Healthineers valued at over 30 million euros. Penta Hospitals International operates...

Screening for Diabetic Retinopathy Prove…

Both telemedicine and community screening for diabetic retinopathy (DR) in rural and urban settings are cost-effective in China, and telemedicine screening programs are more cost-effective, according to a study led...

KTU Researchers Investigate the Links Be…

In recent years Alzheimer's disease has been on the rise throughout the world and is rarely diagnosed at an early stage when it can still be effectively controlled. Using artificial...

Researchers Develop Smartphone-Powered M…

A University of Minnesota Twin Cities research team has developed a new microfluidic chip for diagnosing diseases that uses a minimal number of components and can be powered wirelessly by...

Philips' Future Health Index 2022 Report…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced the publication of its Future Health Index (FHI) 2022 report: 'Healthcare hits reset: Priorities shift as...

App Detecting Jaundice in Babies a Succe…

A smartphone app that identifies severe jaundice in newborn babies by scanning their eyes could be a life-saver in areas that lack access to expensive screening devices, suggests a study...

InterSystems Wins Data Driven Product of…

InterSystems, a provider of next-generation solutions for enterprise digital transformation to help customers solve the most critical data challenges, has announced it received the prestigious Data Driven Product of the...