Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report


COM(00) 93

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

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
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter 10 July 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 14 (2 May 2001)
Discussed in Council: 26 June 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared (decision reported on 2 May 2001)


21.1 The previous Committee cleared the Commission's proposals for the next Euratom Framework Programme of Research for 2002­2006. However in clearing the proposals, the Committee requested further information on three points:

  • the grievances of the hydrocarbons sector that the proposed Framework Programme represents a reduction in the support available to that sector;

  • how the Government intends to ensure that potentially valuable research outside the identified priority areas is not lost; and

  • anti­fraud arrangements.

The Minister's letter

21.2 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science (Lord Sainsbury of Turville) replied in his letter of 10 July 2001. As regards the first point, the Minister says:

    "The Government's policy has been to argue that there should be a greater focus in the next Framework Programme, so that sufficient funds can be brought to bear in areas which are key to the EU's global competitiveness. This policy has received general endorsement from all Member States, notably at the EU Research Council meeting on 26 June 2001. It is an unavoidable consequence of this greater focus that some areas of research will be discontinued or will not receive the same levels of support in the next Framework Programme as they did in the last.

    "The hydrocarbons sector has been under increasing pressure in successive programmes, especially as the focus has shifted from security of supply to environmental matters. We must recognise that there is little support among other Member States for making research in support of the hydrocarbons sector a priority.

    "A possibility does however remain for the hydrocarbons sector to receive funding under the third part of the Commission proposal, entitled 'Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area.' Funding under this heading is intended to increase EU­wide co­ordination and networking between national research activities; it is not limited to priority areas and is entirely 'bottom­up' in conception."

21.3 In response to the second point, the Minister says:

    "In addition to the funds available for co­operation between national programmes, the Commission proposes to make provision for research to meet emerging scientific and technological needs, outside of the priority thematic areas, under the so­called '8th priority' ('Anticipating the EU's scientific and technological needs')."

21.4 As regards anti­fraud arrangements, the Minister says:

    "Details of anti­fraud measures have now been published in the Commission proposals for the specific programmes, which will implement the Framework Programme. As you suggested, we will therefore address this issue in the Explanatory Memorandum that is currently being prepared on the specific programmes."


21.5 As noted above, the previous Committee cleared the documents. We have no further questions.

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Prepared 2 November 2001