HC Deb 18 June 1998 vol 314 cc316-7W
23. Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement on the EU fifth Framework research programme. [45074]

Mr. Battle

I am pleased to say that we have made very good progress with negotiations on the fifth framework programme (FP5) during the UK Presidency of the European Union.

The Council common position on FPS was secured at the EU Research Council meeting, which I chaired, on 12 February. The new programme, as agreed in the Council, is well focused on a limited number of user-led objectives of clear European importance and is designed to complement the work undertaken at national level. Potential users of the research will also be given a formal advisory role in the implementation of the programme to define the research they need as the programme progresses. Ministers agreed a budget of 14 billion ecu for FP5 (around £10 billion), which closely reflects the UK priorities and objectives. In addition, the UK Presidency also hosted a Ministerial Colloquium meeting in April to consider how FP5 can be managed and implemented to make the most effective use of these resources. A number of points for action were agreed with the Commission which will make an important contribution to the future effectiveness of the programme.

The Commission have recently proposed texts for the specific programmes of FP5 which set out the detail of the research and technological priorities for the new programme. Three of these specific programmes will be considered by Ministers at the forthcoming Research Council meeting on 22 June, and the remainder in the autumn. Much remains to be done, but I am optimistic that we will be able to bring FP5 in on time at the beginning of 1999.