Green light for seventh framework research programme for 2007- a line for CAM research is included

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The European Parliament gave the go-ahead for the EU’s research and development funding for the period 2007-2013, when MEPs adopted 10 reports relating to the 7th Framework Research Programme (FP7). This programme, the EU’s main instrument for funding scientific research, will have a budget of more than €54 billion over its seven-year life. Through a European Parliament amendment introduced in the First Reading the new programme includes a specific mention of research into complementary and alternative medicine as a potential recipient of EU R&D funding.

As Parliament and Council have settled their main differences through a compromise package, FP7 is to enter into force on 1 January 2007.

What is FP7?
The seventh programme is intended to build on the achievements of its predecessor by making further progress towards the creation of a European Research Area, the equivalent of a “common market” for research. The long-term goal is for the European Union to become the world’s leading research area.

Successive framework programmes (FPs) have operated since 1984, each covering a five year period. The current programme – FP6 – expires at the end of 2006.  However, FP7 will run for seven years – from 1 January 2007 to 2013 – so as to coincide with the EU’s multiannual budget framework (the Financial Perspective).

Simpler instruments and procedures for funding and participation are a feature of FP7, which will promote collaborative research based on broad research areas, with much continuity from FP6 plus two new topics, space and security.  Only projects involving several partners from different countries will be financed. The programme’s funds are not general subsidies to research organisations or companies: they may only be used for specific work or research projects.

The 7th Framework Programme is organised around four Specific Programmes:

Co-operation: a programme to support cooperation between universities, industry, research centres and public authorities, and between the EU and third countries. It is in this programme that health related research and the specific line on CAM is included.

Ideas: a programme to create an autonomous European Research Council to support investigator-driven “frontier research”.

People
: a programme to support training and career development of researchers.

Capacities:
a programme focusing on the coordination and development of research infrastructure, support for regional research clusters, SMEs, closer ties between science and society and international cooperation.
In addition, Specific Programmes will be set up for the Joint Research Centre (non-nuclear activities) and Euratom nuclear research and training activities.

Separately, the Euratom Framework Programme (which also has a Specific Programme) covers two areas: fusion energy research and nuclear fission and radiation protection.

Parliament’s role
The European Parliament has joint legislative power with the Council (under the codecision procedure) on the main programme (FP7) and the rules for participation.

Many of Parliament’s first-reading amendments were accepted by Council, including those aimed at encouraging participation by small and medium-sized firms and boosting the position of young researchers and women in science, and those dealing with stem cell research.

Parliament’s priorities
MEPs are insisting on shifting some of the spending towards Parliament’s own priorities, including research on renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as the possibility of funding research on children’s health, CAM,  respiratory diseases (including those induced by allergies), plus research into neglected diseases.

European Research Council
The compromise also includes amendments concerning the European Research Council – a new body to support investigator-driven “frontier research”. It was agreed that the administration costs of the ERC should not exceed 5% of its total budget in order to maximise funding for frontier research.

Ethical questions
Ethical issues were of great concern to all involved in the adoption of the programme, with opinions differing sharply. At its first reading Parliament adopted a compromise which the Council was able to accept (with opposition from a couple of Member States

Parliament and Council agreed that all the research activities carried out under the Seventh Framework Programme must be carried out in compliance with fundamental ethical principles. Thus, no Community funding will be allowed for research aimed at human cloning for reproductive purposes or research intended to modify the genetic heritage of human beings. Nor will funds be available for research intended to create human embryos solely for the purposes of research or stem cell procurement, including by means of somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Research on the use of human stem cells, both adult and embryonic, may be financed, depending both on the nature of the scientific proposal and the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved. As regards the use of human embryonic stem cells, institutions, organisations and researchers must be strictly licensed and controlled in accordance with the legal framework of the Member State(s) involved.

Budget
The overall budget planned for the 7th Framework Programme in the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective is €54 582 million in current prices.  Of this, €50 521 million is for the European Community programme and €2751 million for the Euratom programme, which runs from 2007 to 2011. A further €1310 million is indicatively planned for the Euratom programme for 2012-2013 but this will need to be confirmed at a later stage. (all figures in EUR million)

Parliament – compromise with Council (13.11.2006) Council Common Position (September 2006)
Cooperation 32413 32365
   – Health  6100 6050
   – Food, Agriculture and Fisheries,         Biotechnology  1935 1935
   – Information and Communication Technology  9050 9119
    – Nanociences, Nanotechnologies and new Production Technologies  3475 3500
    – Energy  2350 2300
   – Environment (including Climate Change)  1890 1900
    – Transport (including Aeronautics)  4160 4180
    – Socio-economic Sciences and the Humanities  623 610
    – Security  1400 1350
    – Space  1430 1430
Ideas 7510 7460
People 4750 4728
Capacities 4097 4217
– Research Infrastructures 1715 1850
– Research for the benefit of SMEs 1336 1336
– Regions of Knowledge 126 126
– Research Potential 340 370
– Science in society 330 280
– Coherent development of research policies 70 70
– Activities of International  Cooperation 180 185
Non-nuclear activities of the Joint Research Centre 1751 1751
TOTAL 50521 50521