33rd REPORT: SEVENTH FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME
The Government welcomes the thorough and wide-ranging
work undertaken by the Committee in its examination of the Seventh
Framework Programme (FP7) proposals and in the production of the
Since the Report was published there have been
positive steps forward in the negotiation of FP7.
The European Parliament completed its First
Reading of the FP7 proposal on 15 June 2006. The Commission published
a revised proposal for FP7 on 28 June 2006. In response to these
events and to keep the legislative process on track the Presidency
produced a compromise text, consistent with UK priorities, with
the aim of reaching Political Agreement at an extraordinary Competitiveness
Council on 24 July 2006. Political Agreement was achieved and
on the basis of this agreement the Council established a Common
Position at the Competitiveness Council on 25 September. This
will be forwarded to the European Parliament for consideration
in accordance with the codecision procedure. The European Parliament
is aiming for a Second Reading of FP7 in November and Council
hope to formally adopt FP7 at the December Competitiveness Council.
We expect to mark the start of FP7 with a launch
event in London in early 2007, it is hoped that the Science Minister
Lord Sainsbury, the Chief Scientific Advisor Sir David King and
an EC Commissioner will attend this event.
Conclusion 1: We welcome the increased funding
for research and development from roughly 5 billion per
annum under FP6 to around 7.7 billion per annum under FP7.
The Commission's revised FP7 proposal of 28
June 2006 maintains the amounts proposed by the Commission in
the amended proposals of 24 May 2006. Theseset the FP7
budget at approximately 54 billion, equating to roughly
7.7 billion per annum.
At the Competitiveness Council on 24 July 2006
Political Agreement was reached on a text that included the same
total amount for FP7 as that contained in the Commission's revised
UK VALUE ADDED
Recommendation 1: We were concerned that some
areas of industry believed no competitive gain for UK business
had been attributed to EU research programmes. We understand that
FP7 aims to make research and development more industry-driven
and the funding less bureaucratic and complicated. We urge the
Government to ensure this aim becomes a reality and that industry
supports these new instruments.
The Commission has been receptive to the concerns
expressed by the Government and shared by industry across Europe
about the need to ensure that FP7 is driven by the needs of the
ultimate end users of research in industry. It has sought to strengthen
the industry input into the policy making process through such
instruments as the European Technology Platforms (ETPs) and is
seeking to make FP7 more industry-friendly in its programmes and
structures. The Government welcomes this increased openness to
the needs of industry.
The Commission has made a strong and public
commitment to tackle bureaucracy in FP7. It has undertaken to
improve communication with participants, simplify procedures and
speed-up processes. Its proposal for the FP7 Rules of Participation
puts forward a number of measures to help improve the implementation
of the programme such as giving greater autonomy to consortia,
removing complex cost reporting models and the relaxation of some
of the existing requirements surrounding dissemination, use and
access to results from funded projects, which should make FP7
a more attractive proposition for industry. The Government has
and will continue to support the Commission in its efforts to
improve the delivery of the programme and monitor its performance
once the programme is launched.
Conclusion 2: We welcome the proposal for the
European Technology Platforms, involving a range of stakeholders
including industry, to identify large scale industrial challenges
and agree a strategy for tackling them (a Strategic Research Agenda).
We also welcome the intention to implement a strategic research
agenda through public-private partnerships (Joint Technology Initiatives)
as this is most likely to ensure that the research projects are
industry-driven. This method of funding will allow important programmes
of research requiring substantial sums of money to be taken forward.
The Government also welcomes the increased effort
to engage industrial end users in the process of establishing
the priorities for FP7 funding in the Cooperation Specific Programme.
European Technology Platforms, which are industry driven, can
play a key role in identifying a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)
for their industrial sector. This should also feed into the process
of setting the work programmes and defining the fields in which
calls for proposals for FP7 funding will be made, though the individual
projects undertaken to advance SRAs will be funded through these
calls and using established FP funding instruments, as well as
other potential sources of funding.
Joint Technology Initiatives (JTls), which involve
FP funding in support of large scale public/private partnerships,
are also driven by industry but go a stage further in terms of
integration and combining private sector, national and European
level funding. The Government supports the concept of JTIs in
cases where the criteria (eg of scale, European added value, importance
of the subject etc) set out in the FP7 proposals are met.
Six possible JTIs have been identified by the
Commission. It is not yet clear how many of these will ultimately
be funded and on what scale; it is for instance possible that
there will be a staggered start with some JTIs being launched
before others. Our expectation now is that the Commission will
come forward with proposals on this subject in the first half
of 2007. The Government's preference at this stage (and subject
to further information about the scale, scope and structure of
individual JTls) would be that the JTIs on innovative medicines,
aeronautics and hydrogen and fuel cells should be priorities for
an early launch.
Recommendation 2: The Minister was unsure what
monitoring and reporting systems would be in place to safeguard
these projects. It is essential that appropriate systems are in
place and we ask the Government to ensure that this happens.
There are still no concrete proposals in this
field. The Government shares the Committee's concern about the
importance of the governance structures for JTIs. There will be
a need to balance the need for proper oversight by Member States
(and indeed by the European Commission) with the need for JTls
to have adequate flexibility and industrial leadership in order
to address industrial priorities and secure significant private
investment. We shall of course make every effort to ensure that
the most appropriate balance is struck in each case.
Conclusion 3: We welcome the implementation of
an ERC as an instrument which could add value at an EU level.
Recommendation 3: We accept the Minister's assurance
that the quality of the members of the ERC governing body would
ensure the ERC was independent. However we accept the CBI's point
that it will be impossible to assess the independence of the ERC
until it was operational. We accordingly urge the Government to
seek a post-implementation review of the ERC's independence to
meet the concerns of industry.
The current FP7 proposals include a provision
for a thorough mid term review of the operation of the ERC by
2010. This review will consider whether the legal base upon which
the ERC has been established and the governance structures which
derive from this are adequate to ensure the effective independence
of the ERC from outside influence which we wish.
Conclusion 4: We welcome the peer review system
which replicates best practise in the UK's research councils and
the USA's National Science Foundation.
The ERC Scientific Council has recently published
further information on how the peer review process will operate.
This, along with updates on how the Council intends to implement
the funding actions under the FP7 Ideas Specific Programme can
be found on its website (http://ec.europa.eu/erc/index_en.cfm)
Conclusion 5: The Minister told us that the Government
is "very sceptical" over the Commission's proposal to
establish a European Institute of Technology. On the basis of
the evidence received so far, the arguments against remain persuasive.
However the proposal for an EIT remains under scrutiny and we
will report further in due course.
The Commission proposes to bring forward proposals
relating to the EIT shortly. The Government will examine these
in detail when they appear and will report further to the Committee
in the course of the scrutiny process. The UK's success criteria
for the EIT relate to clarity of purpose, clarity of the criteria
for selecting both research topics and universities/institutes
and clarity of expected outcomes. We continue to stress these
criteria to the Commission and to other Member States.
Recommendation 4: National Mobility Programmes
should enhance the number and calibre of researchers in the EU.
We urge the Government to consult with industry to ensure that
its concerns about National Mobility Programmes are addressed.
The Government continues to work with the Commission
to clarify how its proposals for co-funding national programmes
would work in practice to ensure that it is possible for industry
based researchers to participate on the same terms as they would
be able to participate in the corresponding UK funding actions.
Conclusion 6: We were pleased to note that the
Government shared our concern that there should be a synergy between
the CIP and EU industrial policy and the structural funds. This
is essential if the CIP is to deliver its objectives.
The Government is pleased to see that the Political
Agreement text for FP7 agreed by the ,European Council at the
Competitiveness Council on 25 September draws synergies with both
the Structural Funds Regulation and CIP.
Recommendation 5: We note that the budget line
for space and security under the Seventh Framework Programme for
Research has not yet been agreed but will need to be reduced.
The budget for the different areas of research
in FP7 will not be finalised until the programme is agreed via
the codecision procedure. The Government is content that the budget
included in the political agreement text reflects UK priorities.
Recommendation 6: We attach great importance to
the undertakings given in Commissioner Verheugen's letter, in
particular that there should be a "clear and exclusive focus
on civil research". These undertakings should be reflected
in FP7. We recommend that the Government seek agreement on the
The Commission should engage with
Member States at an early stage on all research proposals under
the programme in order that the scope of the proposed research
can be determined prior to commencement.
COREPER should refer proposals
on the space and security programme which it considers to be outside
the civilian scope of that programme to the GAERC which should
make a final determination on whether the research may be carried
When proposing to carry out research
on dual-use technology, the Commission should be mandated to co-operate
with Member States and the European Defence Agency.
The Government agrees wholeheartedly with the
Committee that the focus of FP7 must be on civil research. It
is worth noting that the Framework Programme does not have the
necessary legal basis to fund defence research; projects funded
by the programme must be of a civil nature. Decisions concerning
defence matters can only be taken by intergovernmental cooperation
under the Common Foreign and Security Policy pillar of the European
The Government will be able to closely scrutinise
and monitor the Commission's management and implementation of
the space and security programmes through participation in the
relevant programme committee. The committee will fulfil a number
of important roles, foremost being the development and approval
of the Work Programme, which sets out the detailed objectives,
specific scientific and technological priorities and the timetable
for implementation. It will also have access to a wide range of
information including details of submitted proposals and consortia,
full evaluation reports and the lists of projects that will be
funded. The Government believes that the committee will be able
to carry out the functions foreseen by the Committee.
Recommendation 7: We recommend that the Government
provide updates on the negotiations of the space and security
programme as soon as they become available.
The Government will continue to keep the committee
up to date on the development of the negotiations relating to
the space and security thematic area, and the whole of FP7.
Letter from the Chairman to Lord Sainsbury
of Turville, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science
and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry
Thank you for your Government Response which
Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 26 October. The following
comments relate only to that part of the Response dealing with
space and security.
We noted in our Report that in your letter dated
10 May 2006 you stated that the Government wished to see the budget
line for space and security reduced in favour of other thematic
areas such as health, energy and transport. However, in your Response
you now state that "The Government is content that the budget
included in the political agreement text reflects UK priorities".
Can you confirm that the budget for space and security in the
political agreement text has been reduced? If not, have your priorities
We welcome your agreement that the focus of
FP7 must be on civil research and that the Framework Programme
does not have the necessary legal basis to fund defence research.
We were also concerned, however, with the potential involvement
of the Commission in research into dual-use technologies. We therefore
proposed three safeguard mechanisms which could be built into
the Framework Programme.
We recommended that the Commission should engage
with Member States at an early stage on all research proposals
under the space and security programme in order to determine the
scope of the proposals. The information you have provided in your
Response on the programme committee reassures us that this engagement
will take place.
However. we also proposed a further two safeguardsreference
to the GAERC and consultation with the EDAwhich your Response
does not address. We ask that you respond specifically to these
proposals stating whether you raised them in negotiations and
whether you agree that they would assist in ensuring that the
FP7 retains its civilian focus.
30 October 2006
Letter from Malcolm Wicks MP, Minister
for Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry to
Thank you for your letter of 30 October to Lord
Sainsbury in which you raise certain points concerning the space
and security elements in the Seventh Framework Programme as reflected
in the political agreement text. I am replying as this matter
falls within my portfolio.
The budget for space and security in the original
Commission proposals to which David Sainsbury's letter of 10 May
referred was set at 2.858 billion. In the political agreement
text these budgets (which have now been divided into separate
programmes in line with UK preferences) stand at 2.78 billion-1.43
billion for space and 1.35 billion for security. This overall
reduction took place in the context of an overall increase in
the sums allocated to the Cooperation Specific Programme, so in
percentage terms the share of Framework money going to these areas
has been reduced in line with UK preferences. While the political
agreement text may be subject to minor adjustment as it goes through
the co-decision process with the European Parliament, it is unlikely
that these figures will be substantially modified. This therefore
represents a satisfactory outcome from a UK perspective.
You also raise the issue of safeguard mechanisms
to enable Member States to ensure that the security research element
is solely focused on civil security research and that they are
fully involved in the consideration of all research proposals.
I can report that we are pleased with a number of recent developments.
Firstly, it has been agreed that due to the
particularly sensitive nature of security research, a Regulatory
Committee should be established as the Programme Committee for
the security research part of FP7. This will provide Member States
with a greater say in the scope of the programme, with recourse
to the Council if agreement cannot be reached with the Commission.
Secondly, under the draft Rules of Participation,
for security research it is envisaged that specific provisions
will be laid out in the grant agreement relating to "changes
to the consortium's composition, confidentiality, classification
of information, and information to Member States, dissemination,
access rights, transfer of ownership of foreground and use thereof".
This is an important development, as it will
allow UK and other Member States to scrutinise in detail any project
proposals which involve the use or creation of classified information
or that may require export licences. Member States will be able
to flag up any proposals of concern and scrutinise them to ensure
that all security issues have been complied with.
Finally, the draft Council Decision on Framework
Programme 7, also explicitly mentions the need to consult the
24 November 2006