7th Research Framework Programme (FP7)
The EU's Seventh framework programme for research and technological development (2007-2013) is designed as a key contribution to the EU's strategy for growth and jobs.
Since 1984, research and innovation activities of the EU are grouped in one big programme called the Framework Programme (FP). Research framework programmes are the EU's main financial and legal instruments to implement the European Research Area (ERA). ERA is now high on the policy agenda and part of the strategy for meeting the goal of increasing investment to three per cent of the EU's total GDP by 2010 as laid out by the Barcelona Summit in March 2002. It is also a legal and political obligation stemming from the Amsterdam Treaty.
So far, framework programmes have been designed to last for a period of 4 years. They are drawn up and proposed by the Commission and have to be adopted by the Parliament and the Council.
In view of preparing the EU's 7th Framework Programme, which will follow the current 6th FP (2002-2006), the Commission adopted, on 16 June 2004, its Communication 'Science and technology, the key to Europe's future - Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research', outlining the main priorities for FP7.
An open stakeholder consultation on this communication was organised in autumn 2004
. The Council's views on the issue were in line with those of the Commission's and the Parliament voted on its position in March 2005.
The Commission finally presented its official proposal for the FP7 on 6 April 2005. Following the proposal,
consultations on research themes in the FP7 and
on EU science and technology foresight in FP7
On 6 April 2005, the Commission adopted its official proposal for EU's 7th Framework Programme, which will follow the current 6th FP (2002-2006). The proposal takes account of the views expressed by the other EU institutions, the member states and by various science and research stakeholders, including the criticism expressed by the Marimon report and the latest 5-year-assessment of the EU research.
Focused on reaching the Lisbon objectives:
"The 7th Framework Programme will not be 'just another Framework Programme', ” said Science and Research Commissioner Potočnik. In its content, organisation, implementation modes and management tools, the FP7 is designed as a key contribution to the relaunched Lisbon strategy. "FP7 is centered on innovation and knowledge for growth," said Commissioner Potočnik. "It will continue the drive towards the European research area (ERA) - thus aiming at building the internal market of knowledge."
Duration: FP7 will be synchronised with the duration of the EU's financial perspective and will thus cover the 7-year-period 2007-2013.
Structure: FP7 will be organised into four specific programmes, corresponding to four major objectives of European research policy:
1. Co-operation (€32.3 bn): refers to gaining leadership in key scientific and technology areas by supporting co-operation between universities, industry, research centres and public authorities across the EU and with the rest of the world. Trans-national cooperation will remain the main instrument for carrying out research activities. This programme will consist of ten different thematic research areas:
- Information and Communication technologies (€9.1 bn)
- Health (€6 bn)
- Transport (including Aeronautics) (€4.1 bn)
- Nanoproduction (€3.5 bn)
- Energy (€2.3 bn)
- Food, agriculture and biotechnology (€1.9 bn)
- Environment (including climate change) (€1.8 bn)
- Security (NEW! compared to FP6) (€1.4 bn)
- Space (€1.3 bn)
- Socio-economic sciences and the humanities (€0.6 bn)
The programme allows for joint, cross-thematic approaches to research subjects of common interest. The Commission published the first FP7 specific programmes proposals on 21 September 2005 and, after stakeholder consultation and the Parliaments amendments, a revised version on 28 June 2006.
2. Ideas (€7.5 bn): refers to the establishment of an autonomous European Research Council (ERC), which will support and stimulate basic research carried out by individual teams competing at European level. The ERC has already been established and it has published its draft work programme for 2007.
3. People (€4.7 bn): refers to the so called 'Marie Curie' actions, which strengthen training, the career prospects and mobility of European researchers. Special focus will be given to skills and career development, increasing mobility between university and industry, and strengthening links with national systems.
4. Capacities (€4.2 bn): refers to developing and fully exploiting the EU’s research capacities through large-scale research infrastructure, regional cooperation and innovating SMEs as well as increased international co-operation and bringing science and society closer together.
* Joint Research Centre (€1.75 bn): In addition to the four specific programmes, the FP7 includes a specific programme for the non-nuclear activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC).
**Euratom Treaty€2.7 bn): In line with the EU's responsibilities with the Euratom Treaty, the proposal for FP7 includes the traditional sector of research on nuclear safety.
Budget: The Commission's initial proposal for FP7 and the Euratom Treaty was 67.082 billion euro. Following a lot of negotiations on the EU's financial perspective 2007-2013, the Commission's amended proposal for FP7 (28 June 2006) sets the budget to 50.521 billion. For comparison, see the FP6 budget breakdown here.
Simplification: Along with its FP7 official proposal, the Commission also published a proposal for measures to simplify the administrative and financial rules of the FP7. The aim is to make participation in the FP7 less costly and cumbersome for all, especially for SMEs. Following the Commission proposal a stakeholder consultation on the issue was organised.
As the budget for FP7 is set to be far less than the 70 billion euro asked by the Commission, UEAPME, the European association of craft, small and medium-sized enterprises, wants guarantees of that no significant cuts will be made in the sections of programmes aimed at promoting SMEs' competitiveness. UEAPME also points out that under FP6, 15% of the collaborative research budget was set-aside for SME participation, whereas the Commission proposal on FP7 includes no such guaranteed allocation. "The Commission has tried to make the framework programme simpler and more accessible for SMEs but, without a minimum SME budget, there is no guarantee that involvement of small business will not decrease," said the UEAPME Secretary General, Hans-Werner Müller. The association is asking for at least six billion euros in the budget for the participation of SMEs in collaborative research projects.
UNICE, the Union des Industries de la Communauté européenne, underlines the need for the increased budget to be accompanied by greater simplification. It strongly supports the Technology Platforms and Joint Technology Initiatives as well as the development of world-class research infrastructures, which UNICE would like to see opened for more applied and industry driven research. It also states that the "FP7 must allow for adequate protection of Intellectual Property (IP). [...] The large scale projects in the current programme create difficulties regarding IPR."
EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries thinks that the FP7 work programmes should be defined by the Strategic Research Agendas of the European Technology Platforms. "Developing these long term European research agenda’s can really boost industry participation in FP7," said EuropaBio Public Policy Director Dirk Carrez.
EuroChambers thinks that in order to exploit research results better the European Research Council (ERC) should be opened to business representatives, who should become an integral part of the ERC.
David Hammerstein, the Parliament's shadow rapporteur on the FP7 from the (Greens/EFA Group) thinks that, while containing some, positive aspects, the funding programme is "deeply compromised by its bias towards the promotion of forms of energy production that have no future. The proposal to increase funding for nuclear research by 230% compared to the last R&D programme, is simply ridiculous. Under these plans the mammoth project to build the ITER experimental fusion reactor will consume the majority of public funding without delivering a single kilowatt of energy to Europe's grid."
Claude Turmes, Greens/EFA Group's energy coordinator: "We deeply regret that key decisions on energy research are still taken by the Commission's internal services. After publicly announcing that efficiency and renewables would be the Commission's top priority, Energy Commissioner Piebalgs appears confined to playing the role of a spectator who can only pay lip service to sustainable strategies."
The CORDIS website for FP7 regroups a large number of positions from various stakeholders.
- New ethical guidelines for FP7 projects were published in March 2007.
- The European Research Council (ERC) was officially launched on 27 February 2007.
- The first calls for proposals were published on 22 December 2006. The first FP7 projects could be launched at the end of 2007 or early in 2008.
- The Council finally adopted the FP7 on 18 December 2006. The decision was published in the Official Journal on 30 December 2006.
- FP7 will run from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013.