The 6th Framework Programme is structured around three priorities:
Priority 1: Focusing and integrating European research
In the interest of efficiency and to avoid the r isk of duplication or of spreading the research effort too thinly, the 6th FP concentrates the greater part of its efforts on seven priority fields, which have been chosen on account of their value for building a knowledge-based economy and society. The activities in this area are intended to integrate research efforts and activities on a European scale, and develop European knowledge and understanding.
The 7 thematic priority areas are:
- Life science, genomics and biotechnology for health (2,255 million euro)
- Information society technologies (3,635 million euro)
- Nanotechnology and nanosciences, knowledge-based functional materials, new production processes and devices (1,300 million euro)
- Aeronautics and space (1,075 million euro)
- Food safety and health risks (685 million euro)
- Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems (2,120 million euro)
- Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society (225 million euro)
In addition to these seven areas, the 6th FP includes an eigth traditional sector of research on nuclear safety, in line with the EU's responsibilities under the Euratom Treaty. This has a budget of 1,230 million euro, 60 per cent of which is for the development of the international ITER fusion reactor project, the rest for nuclear waste management, radioprotection and the Joint Research Centre's activities in this field.
Specific activities covering a wider field of research:
- Research for policy support (formulation and implementation of Community policies) and support of unconventional and visionary research with potential to open new fields for European science and technology, including NEST (New and emerging science and technologies) (555 million euro)
- Specific research activities for SMEs: at least 15% of the budget relating to the 7 thematic priorities will be allocated to SMEs (430 million euro)
- Specific international co-operation activities (INCO) (315 million euro)
Priority 2: Structuring the European Research Area
Efforts in this area should enhance stronger links with national, regional and other European initiatives in the field of research.
- Research and innovation (290 million euro)
- Human resources and mobility (1,580 million euro)
- Research infrastructures (655 million euro)
- Science and society (80 million euro)
Priority 3: Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area
This target should simplify and streamline the implementation arrangements.
- Co-ordination of research activities (270 million euro)
- Development of research and innovation policies (50 million euro)
Instruments for the implementation of the 6th Framework programme
Two new instruments have been created for the implementation of the 6th FP:
Networks of Excellence aims at progressively integrating activities of network partners and thereby creating 'virtual' networks of excellence.
Integrated Projects will be projects of substantial size, designed to help build up the 'critical' mass in objective-driven research with clearly defined scientific ambitions and aims.
A high-level expert group on 21 June 2004 published its final report on the mid-term review of the new instruments of FP6 (see EURACTIV 7 July 2004). The group was chaired by Dr Ramon Marimon, former Spanish Secretary of State for Science and Technology and its mandate was to assess the success of the new instruments in meeting the goals of FP6 - structuring and developing the European Research Area. The final report states the strengths and weaknesses of the new instruments and formulates 12 recommendations to overcome the weaknesses. In particular, the report emphasises the high costs and administrative hurdles related to participating in FP6 through the new instruments as well as the need for more clarity concerning the instruments' goals.
The Commission published its response to the Marimon report on 27 August (see EURACTIV 16 September 2004). It points out that many of the expert panel's recommendations match the Commission's own findings and that 'corrective measures' on the instruments were still to be taken in 2004. At the end of 2004, the Commission published several documents giving a clear classification and description of the FP6 instruments.