European Portal of National Heritage Organisations

6th Framework Programme

The European Research Area reflects the EU’s ambition to develop a genuine common research policy that so far has not existed. One of European research’s structural weknesses lies in the waste of resources and overlapping due to 15 national un-coordinated research policies. The ambition of the Commission is to move towards a common European Research policy by promoting scientific and technological co-operation, joint efforts and coordination. FP6 is a key tool to achieve this objective. While ERA represents the long-term vision for Europena research, FP6 is more of a catalyst and mid-term tool to get the process started and get the heavy machine of EU research moving.

How is the content of EU-supported research determined? What democratic control exists over the choice of subjects that Framework Programme 6 projects cover?
The Commission makes the first proposal for a new Framework Programme. Its proposal is based on expertise and results gained from previous programmes. The Commission relies on in-house advise, and on feedback from Member States, candidate countries, academia, industry and technology users. The European parliament and the Council of Ministers take the decision on the Framework Programme, its budget, priorities and modalities. Extensive debate at every level of decision-making ensures all angles are taken into consideration.

What contributions are Candidate Countries making to FP6 – and what benefit will they draw from it?
The EU research sector has taken the lead in opening up its activities and programmes to participants from Candidate Countries (CCs). This is a recognisition of the scietific potential present in most of them. Also current EU Member States will benefit from this. As far as financial resources are concerned, Candidate Countries will pay a proportionate contribution to the research budget in the same way that member States contribute to the research budget via their general contribution to the EU budget. Once they become Member States themselves, rules will be adapted to the new situation. But the “side effect” of participating in european co-operative research projects and engineers from Candidate Countries. they are able to contribute their knowledge and experience to the broader challanges of European research and feel part of the forthcoming ERA.

Which are the new instruments for implementing the FP6 priority thematic areas?
One of the key features of FP6 is the introduction of more effective instruments, notably: Integrated Projects (IP), and Networks of excellence (NoE). These ‘new’ instruments are characterised by their capacity to mobilise the critical mass of expertise needed to achieve ambitious objectives. They are also characterised by the structuring and integrating effects that they will have on the fabric of European research.

Which is the objective of IPs?
The integrated projects instrument is degigned to generate the knowledge required to implement the priority thematic areas. It will do that by integrating the critical mass of activities and resources needed to achieve ambitious, clearly-defined scientific and technological objectives of a European dimension.

What activities should an IP contain?
The activities integrated by an IP could cover the full research spectrum, from basic to applied research. An IP should contain: – objective-driven research; – technological development, innovation-related and demonstration components, as appropriate; – the effective management of knowledge and, when appropriate, its explotation; and – a training component, as appropriate. All these activities should be integrated within a coherent management framework.

What is the scale of critical mass in an IP?
The concept of ‘critical mass’ is relevant in the following area:
Resources
Each IP should assemble whatever critical mass of resources is needed to achieve its ambitious objectives. The value of the activities integrated may range up tos everal tens of million euro. However, there is no minimum threshold provided the necessary ambition and critical mass is achieved.
Partnership
IPs need at least three participants from three different member or Associated States, of which at least two are Member States or Associated Candidate countries. In practice, however, to achieve ‘ambitious’ objectives there are likely to be significantly more partners per consortium.
Duration
IPs are expected to last between three and five years, but can be longer if necessary.

What is the objective of NoE?
The networks of excellence instrument is designed to strenghten excellence on a particular research topic by networking together the critical mass of resources and expertise needed to provide European leadership and be a world force on that topic. This expertise will be networked around a joint programme of activities (JPA) aimed primarly at creating a durable integration of the research capacities of the network participants while, at the same time, advancing knowledge on the topic.

What is the scale of critical mass in a NoE?
The concept of critical mass is relevant in the following areas:
Expertise
Each NoE must assemble whatever critical mass of expertise is needed to achieve its ambitious goals. This will vary from topic to topic, and larger networks may involve several hundred researchers.
Partnership
Networks need at least three participants from three different member or Associated States, of which at least two are member States or Associated Candidate countries. In practice, however, the Commission would expect at least six participants per network.
Duration
Networks would typically last five years, but can be up to seven years if needed to create durable integration.