Norwegian contributions to the shaping of the Multiannual Framework programme 2002-2006 of the European Community for Research, Technological development and Demonstration activities aimed at contributing towards the creation of the European Research Area

Mr. Philippe Busquin
Member of the European Commission
Research Directorate General
Rue de la Loi 200
1049 Brussels

Your ref

Our ref


2001/101 KHa

25 May 2001

Norwegian contributions to the shaping of the Multiannual Framework programme 2002-2006 of the European Community for Research, Technological development and Demonstration activities aimed at contributing towards the creation of the European Research Area

Dear Commissioner,

With reference to the EEA-agreement which regulates the participation of the EFTA-states in the Framework Programme, we would like to comment on the Commission proposal COM (2001) 94 Final. We trust that our comments may be of relevance to the current discussions in the Member states, as well as to the Commission`spreparation of working documents on the specific programmes

Our comments are based on an extensive, nation-wide hearing, conducted in collaboration with the Research Council of Norway. Relevant research institutions, universities and industrial companies in Norway, as well as relevant Ministeries have been consulted. The results of these consultations are reflected in the Annex to this letter.

Our views presented here are in accordance with the general views conveyed in our letters of 22 May and 18 December 2000, taking into account the Commission's Communication COM(2000)612 final and the the Commission`s first ERA Communication.

Main points

In our view, the new Framework Programme addresses central economic, cultural and societal challenges that Europe will be facing the coming years. We fully endorse the main objective of making a reality of the European Research Area (ERA) in order to give a substantial boost to research and innovation in Europe. The Framework Programme will be an important contribution to the development of scientific and technical excellence in Europe.

Norway agrees with the basic principles for realising the 6thFramework programme, namely

  • concentrating on a limited number of priority thematic areas;
  • creating a stronger link with national, regional and European initiatives;
  • simplifying and streamlining the implementation arrangements, while still ensuring the flexibility of the programme.

Structuring the European Research Area

We welcome the Commission proposal to increase the emphasis on research and innovation, on human resources and the mobility of researchers, on research infrastructure as well as on science and society issues. Norway strongly supports the Commission action plan for the promotion of women in science. Measures are needed in order to recruit more women to all levels of scientific careers. A broad representation of women should also be secured in committees and evaluation panels.

Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area

One important step towards the European Research Area will be the opening up of national programmes. It is also important that the already existing international cooperation is given due regard in this process.

Integrating research: On Scientific and Technological content

Norway welcomes the overall Scientific and Technological Objectives as well as the main targets for the new Framework Programme as outlined in the Commission's proposal. We support the seven proposed priority areas. At this stage we would like to see some important points further strengthened in the Framework Programme.

In the light of European challenges concerning sustainability, global and climate change, and food security, there is a clear need to further develop and integrate marine science and technology. This includes basic marine science, marine genomics and biology, sustainable production and exploitation of marine biological resources (including fisheries and aquaculture), marine technology for the exploration of the ocean space, as well as water borne transport and other maritime services.

There is a need to secure and diversify the energy supplies of Europe. Further research on cleaner, cheaper, safer and more reliable technologies for exploration, production, transport, storage and conversion of petroleum with emphasis on natural gas, accompanied by CO 2> sequestration and fuel switching (e.g. from coal to natural gas) as well as renewables and rational use of energy are key instruments. Science-based developments and innovations in these areas are necessary in bridging the gap to renewables and securing a transition to a more renewables-based energy system.

We would also like to underline the need to integrate relevant studies of the social sciences and the humanities within the thematic areas.

Concerning Information Society technologies, we would also like to see an emphasis on the utilisation of the technologies and the interface with the citizens and the society as a whole with the e-Europe initiative as an appropriate frame of reference.

On Instruments to integrate research

We clearly see the need to find new mechanisms to organise joint research efforts in Europe both within and outside the Framework Programme.

The main instruments - networks of excellence, integrated projects and integration of national research - would need to be further developed in the coming process.

While the main focus is on the chosen priority areas, instruments should be in place to balance short-term application and exploitation with long-term targeted basic research and generic activities. To this end a certain flexibility in funding schemes is necessary.

The cooperation with developing countries is very important in the overall framework of globalisation, and so is the participation of the developing countries in the Framework Programme. We would therefore recommend that the INCO-programme is further strenghtened in next Framework programme.

Furthermore, we would like to express our support to the fruitful discussions in CREST this Spring. We endorse the conclusions reached in these discussions, not least concerning marine science and technology as well as energy issues.

In looking forward to meeting you in Norway next Month to continue our discussions on challenges for European science and technology, I remain

Yours sincerely,
Grete Knudsen