European R&D Policy towards the Fifth Framework Program of Research and Development of the European Union
On April 9, 1997 the European Commission on the proposal of Edith Cresson adopted its draft Fifth European Research Framework. Program which according to the Commission is to represent a real break in relation to the four preceding programs. A break in the approach will occur, which from now on consists of concentrating the research effort on only six themes which are both close to citizens' aspirations and the requirement of business competitiveness: renewable resources and ecosystem, user friendly information society, competitive and sustainable growth, international cooperation, innovation and participation by SMEs, and human potential. A break also in operations, which will be distinguished by a concern for coordination among the various activities and more management flexibility, is impending. Knowing moreover that the largest part of the Fifth Framework Program, which covers the period 1998-2002, will be carried out in the context of new budget guidelines required from 1999 to succeed the present budget framework, the Commission has not formally proposed a financial envelop at this stage. It considers nonetheless that the relative weight of the Fifth Framework Program in terms of the percentage of GNP of European Union should reach at least the same level reached by the Fourth Framework Program on average between 1995 and 1998 and that the research effort should tend towards that undertaken by the major competitors of the Union.
We publish here:
- a brief description of the direction of this program as adopted by the Commission, a program, we emphasize, which has yet to be approved by the Council and European Parliament in the first quarter of 1998 and whose budget has not been set;
- the comments of Pierre Bonnaure, former Director of Research and Programs at the European Commission;
- the point of view expressed by Francis Mer, Chairman of Usinor Sacilor, President of the National Association (France) for Technical Research at a Colloquium organised by this Association about the Fifth Framework Program at Paris on April 21 and 22, 1997.