The new projects will be broad in scope and look into fields as diverse as new technologies for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and high-security labs for research into fatal bacteria and viruses. The proposals were unveiled at the European Conference on Research Infrastructures in Versailles, which brought together researchers, government officials and operators of research sites across Europe.
The initiative is the result of an update of the 2006 European roadmap for research infrastructures, which proposed 34 projects in the science and technology fields. All these projects are part of the EU's vision to build a European Research Area (ERA; see EurActiv Links Dossier) by 2020, in which science and knowledge can circulate around without borders.
The bloc's research ministers had pledged their strong support for this vision during last week's Competitiveness Council (EurActiv 03/12/08).
Commenting on this update, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Developing world class infrastructures is an essential part of building the European Research Area, and must be one of the priorities of the EU and national recovery plans."
The Commission proposed the foundation of a European Research Area (ERA) back in 2000. It aims to create a genuine 'internal market' for research to increase pan-European cooperation and coordination of national research activities.
Despite the gloomy economic outlook and fears that it will lead governments to cut back their R&D spending, Potočnik expressed his hope that member states would also "avoid any further delays in adopting the proposal for a European legal framework for European research infrastructures".
"We have no time to lose in developing 'smart' investments in research," he said.
To finance these new projects, the Commission said it would open calls for tender within the 7th Framework Programme (see EurActiv Links Dossier) at the end of 2009.