Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirteenth Report


COM(00) 93

(a)  Draft Decision on the Multi-annual Framework Programme 2002-2006 of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities, aimed at contributing towards the creation of the European Research Area; and

(b)  Draft Decision on the Multi-annual Framework Programme 2002-2006 of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) for research and training activities aimed at contributing towards the creation of the European Research Area.

Legal base: (a) Article 166 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting

(b) Article 7 EURATOM; unanimity

Document originated: 21 February 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 5 March 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 22 March 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 6 April 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21013) 5643/00: HC 23-xiii (1999-2000), paragraph 12 (5 April 2000) and HC 23-xix (1999-2000), paragraph 4 (24 May 2000)
To be discussed in Council: June 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but further information requested


  14.1  The fifth Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities covers a period from 1998 to 2002 and is due to be superseded by the sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006). Similarly, the current Framework Programme for research by the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) is also due to be replaced by a new Framework Programme.

  14.2  The Commission has produced a series of initiatives recently that seek to define the Framework Programmes for the EC and EURATOM with the aim of creating a European Research Area (ERA). In April and May 2000 we reported on a Commission Communication, Towards a European Research Area,[19] in which the Commission analysed the state of European research and concluded that there was a lack of a European policy on research. In November 2000 we reported on a follow-up Commission Communication, Making a reality of the European research area: guidelines for EU research activities (2002­2006), and an associated draft Resolution.[20] In the Communication, the Commission argued that the realisation of the European Research Area required the next Framework Programme to be more closely linked with national activities and European inter­governmental co­operation initiatives. As regards funding, the Communication stated that this should be combined to a greater extent with other public and private sector sources and that new instruments and methods of intervention needed to be used for this purpose, specifically designed to help correct the structural weaknesses it perceived in European research. The draft Council Resolution underlined the importance of focusing on areas where Community action provides the greatest possible "European added value" and supported the Commission's intention to explore new types of intervention in order to achieve greater efficiency in research, including new management methods and simplification of procedures.

The EC Framework Programme

  14.3  In February 2001 the Commission published its proposals for new Framework Programmes for the EC and EURATOM covering the period 2002-2006. As anticipated in the earlier Communications, the proposal for the next Framework Programme for research and technological development (RTD) activities in the EC (proposal (a)) seeks to make a reality of the European Research Area (ERA). The proposal is that this will be done by 'Integrating European research'; 'Structuring the European Research Area', and 'Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area'. The proposal sets out the objective, the justification of effort, the European added-value and the actions envisaged in each of the three main blocks of research activity.

— Integrating research

  14.4  Support will be provided to a selected number of priority research areas in which EU action can add the greatest possible value. The proposal identifies seven thematic priorities:

  • genomics and biotechnology for health;
  • information society technologies;
  • nanotechnologies, intelligent materials and new production methods;
  • aeronautics and space;
  • food safety and health risks;
  • sustainable development and global change; and
  • citizens and governance in European society.

  14.5  It is proposed that European research in these areas will be integrated by establishing networks of excellence, designing larger longer-term, public/private integrated projects, and involving the EU in programmes carried out by several Member States. The document also includes a proposal to meet the scientific and technological needs arising from implementation of Community policies. A specific programme for the Joint Research Centre (JRC) will focus on providing scientific and technical support for the formulation and implementation of Community policies. Special emphasis will also be given to opening­up European research to the rest of the world.

— Structuring the European Research Area

  14.6  In broad terms, this means supporting the research infrastructure at a national, regional and European level. This objective accounts for 19% of the indicative budget. The new Framework Programme comprises four categories of activities which are intended to underpin European research efforts. These include:

  • promotion of research and innovation, including the transfer of knowledge and exploitation of research results;

  • promotion of the mobility of human resources and researchers, including a proposal to double the proportion of the total research budget allocated to mobility from 5% in the current Framework Programme to 11%, and to extend funding to European research teams as well as individuals;[21]

  • supporting the use of European research infrastructures, including broadband communication networks for research; and

  • development of harmonious relations between science and society, for example through awareness­raising initiatives such as prizes and competitions.

— Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area

  14.7  The arrangements for research will simplified and streamlined. For example, there will be closer co­ordination of research and innovation activities in Europe, including measures to support networking, co-operation and collaboration among researchers in Europe. There will also be support for specialised working groups, forums and bench-marking of research and innovation policies. This objective accounts for 3% of the indicative budget.

— Budget and Programme Management

  14.8  A budget of 16, 270 million euros is proposed for the new EC Framework Programme. An indicative breakdown of the budget is given in table 1. Although the amount of financial support to individual projects will vary, support is likely to be provided by means of a grant of up to a maximum of 50% of a project's total costs and will generally be decided by open calls for proposals or invitation to tender procedures.

  14.9  The Commission is proposing a more decentralised and flexible system of control than exists under the current framework. It proposes that the networks of excellence and integrated projects will generally be administered autonomously by the participants. The Commission also proposes to contract out the management of certain research activities for small and medium-sized enterprises and activities aimed at supporting researcher mobility. One beneficial effect of this decentralised approach is that it should reduce the overall cost to the Commission of administering the programme. However, in order to ensure efficiency, the Commission proposes to specify the measurable objectives of individual projects.

  14.10  As regards evaluation, the Commission will rely upon annual monitoring of individual projects. Progress in implementing the Framework Programme will be described in an annual report. On a longer-term basis, the Commission will publish a five-year assessment before submitting proposals for the next (seventh) Framework Programme.

  14.11  The document notes, in passing, that anti­fraud arrangements will be described when the specific research programmes for the main blocks of activity are published.

The EURATOM Framework Programme

  14.12  Proposal (b) relates to the separate Commission proposal for a Council Decision on the Framework Programme of 2002­2006 for EURATOM. This proposal covers research, demonstration and training activities in the field of nuclear energy. The priority thematic areas in research will include:

  • treatment and storage of waste;
  • controlled thermonuclear fusion;
  • other activities in the field of nuclear safety and safeguards; and
  • the Joint Research Centre's EURATOM activities.

  14.13  A budget of 1,230 million euros is proposed for the EURATOM Framework Programme. Many features of the management of the EC's Framework Programme will also apply to the EURATOM Programme.

The Government's view

  14.14  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 6 April 2001, the Minister for Science and Innovation at the Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury) says:

    "The Government broadly welcomes the Commission's proposal for the next Framework Programme. In particular, it supports the intention to focus resources on a limited number of thematic priority areas, where the scale of research requires co­operation at European level. It also supports the proposed doubling in funding for researcher mobility and training, which is essential for the development of a genuine European research community.

    "The Government welcomes provision for research to underpin the needs of EU policymakers but is concerned at the lack of detail in the section 'Anticipating the scientific and technological needs of the Union'. It is also concerned at the lack of detail on the provision for international co­operation activities, especially with developing countries, and on the innovation aspects of the proposal.

    "In relation to the three new funding mechanisms proposed, the Government shares the Commission's belief in the need for improved Framework Programme management, and is sympathetic to the proposal to move from project­ to programme­scale management. However, more detail is required, particularly on the new contractual mechanisms and on means of ensuring the participation of smaller organisations. More detail is also required on the means by which the essential criteria of excellence and peer review will be preserved. The Government has reservations at this stage regarding the application of Article 169, in view of the onerous legislative procedure involved.

    "The Government welcomes Commission plans to streamline and simplify procedures for managing the programme. On externalisation, it favours this where it meets the criteria of economy and value for money, but will want to be assured that any measures introduced are fully transparent and that the appropriate contractual mechanisms are in place.

"The Government welcomes the Commission's proposals to involve Commission policy­making Directorates General in planning the JRC's work programme, and to focus the JRC's activities. It will seek assurances that the Commission is actively taking forward the process of JRC reform."


  14.15  Like the Government, we broadly support the approach set out in the documents. We welcome the focusing of resources in the new Framework Programme on a few thematic priority areas and also welcome the more decentralised and flexible manner in which research will be promoted. We look forward to considering the detailed programmes when they are available. However, two aspects concern us. First, some potentially fruitful areas of research may be excluded from the priority areas. Of course, to some extent this is inevitable when scarce resources are targeted. Nevertheless, we understand that, for example, the hydrocarbon sector feels aggrieved that its research efforts are not supported by the Framework Programme. We would like to know to what extent such concerns are justified and whether the Government intends to monitor the research effort of sectors outside the priority areas to ensure that potentially valuable research is not lost.

  14.16  Secondly, we are concerned about the absence of any detail on anti-fraud arrangements. Apparently, these details are to be set out in the specific programmes implementing the Framework, which have not yet been published. When they are published, we would like the Minister to comment on the anti-fraud arrangements when submitting the Explanatory Memorandum. Meanwhile, we clear the document.



Indicative breakdown million euros
1)  Integrating research[22] [23] 12,770
—  Genomics and biotechnology for health 2,000
—  Information society technologies 3,600
—  Nanotechnologies, intelligent materials, new production processes 1,300
—  Aeronautics and space 1,000
—  Food safety and health risks 600
—  Sustainable development and global change 1,700
—  Citizens and governance in the European knowledge-based society 225
—  Anticipating the EU's scientific and technological needs[24] 2,345
2)  Structuring the European Research Area 3,050
—  Research and innovation 300
—  Human resources 1,800
—  Research infrastructures 900
—  Science/society 50
3)  Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area 450
—  Support for the co-ordination of activities 400
—  Support for the coherent development of policies 50

19  (21013) 5643/00; see headnote to this paragraph. Back

20  (21698) 12214/00 (21696) - ; see HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 40 (15 November 2000). Back

21   The 1998-2002 Programme had a total budget of 14,960 million euros, of which some 800 million euros was allocated to mobility. The comparable figures in the sixth framework are 16,270 million euros and 1,800 million euros respectively.  Back

22  The aim is to allocate at least 15% of the financial resources assigned to this heading to SMEs. Back

23  Including 600 million euros in total for international co-operation activities. Back

24  Including 715 million euros for JRC activities. Back

25  To which should be added the 1,230 million euros under the Euratom Framework Programme, broken down indicatively as follows: Treatment and storage of nuclear waste 150 million euros; Controlled thermonuclear fusion 700 million euros [of which 200 million euros is foreseen for participation in the ITER project]; other activities 50 million euros; and JRC activities 330 million euros [of which 110 million euros are for the treatment and storage of waste]. Back

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