Oceans: a cross cutting theme in the 7th Framework Programme proposal

In its ambitious 7th Framework Progamme proposal on research and development the EU Commission announced it will spend a major part of the 73 billion euro budget on nine specific themes.

15/02/2006 :: The Commission underlines that special attention should also be given to areas cutting across these themes, highlighting marine sciences and technologies as a typical candidate. Norway is pleased with this focus on oceans, but expressed a need for it to be detailed further in the decision-making process that has now started . 
The new research framework programme represents a key element in the Lisbon strategy to increase growth and competitiveness in Europe. Consequently the Commission wants to double the research budget from 5 to 10 billion euros per year. Planned to start in 2007 and run for seven years, the new framwork programme will be structured on four pillars – cooperation, ideas, people and capacities – for which more detailed proposals will follow this autumn.

The cooperation pillar will include the cornerstone of the previous EU framework programmes – collaborative research projects. To ensure continuation, only one new thematic theme – space and security research – has been added. The Commission hopes to implement these through several new developing tools, technology platforms being one of these.

The ‘ideas’ pillar is a proposal to establish a full fledged European Research Council that will fund frontier research in all scientific and technological fields – with scientific excellence as the only prime criteria. In the the third pillar, people, the Commission aims at doubling the number of mobility stipends better known as the Marie Curie actions.

In the pillar on capacitites the Commission focuses on research infrastructure, research and innovation in SMEs and European regions.

The 7th framework programme is now in the hands of the Council and the European Parliament, who will first have to decide on EU’s general long-term budget before setting the frames for the research programme. So far one can only note that a doubling of the framework programme’s budget would automatically double the Norwegian contribution to the programme, bringing it up to an annual level of NOK 1.7 billion per year.

Norway will have to take a formal decision whether to join the next programme, together with their EEA partners, but in last month’s white paper on research the government gave a clear message: Norway will take active part in planning of the 7th Framework Programme and do its utmost to ensure that areas and instruments important for Norway will be covered in the new programme.



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 Photo: and Ministry of Education and Research