The Commission adopted its original FP7 proposal in April 2005, while the budgetary aspects to the programme were adopted in May 2006, following agreement on the EU's Financial Perspectives for 2007 to 2013. The Parliament adopted the proposals by a broad majority in June 2006, proposing some 1700 amendments.
The themes set to receive funding under the Cooperation programme remain the same, with a number of clarifications, specifying areas in which research will be funded. These range from healthy ageing and infectious diseases to soil fertility, the sustainability of fisheries, platforms for software and services and nano-composites.
On Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), long-term public-private partnerships to boost technology in specific fields, the Commission accepts modifications on the criteria to be used for identifying potential JTIs, as well as their organisation and implementation.
For example, the new proposal adds that when assessing the need for a JTI: the existence of a genuine societal need and benefit; the scale of the impact on industrial competitiveness and growth; and the inability of existing instruments to achieve the objective should all be taken into account.
The amended proposal also emphasises that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), technology transfer and education should not be neglected by JTIs. The organisation of JTIs should ensure that "participation in their projects is open to a wide range of participants throughout Europe, and in particular SMEs".
The Commission also incorporates important clarifications on the European Research Council (ERC), and in particular on the term of office, the renewal and the role of the Scientific Council, the management and staffing arrangements, and the independent review of the ERC.
MEPs had requested a review of the ERC in 2008. Speaking to the Parliament during a debate on FP7, EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik suggested that this would be too soon. The revised proposal states that the review will be carried out 'no later than 2010'.
The new document adds that the ERC shall have the ability to conduct its own strategic studies to prepare and support its operational activities.
Ethics were a major consideration for many parliamentarians, and the revised proposal seeks to allay concerns by specifying which areas will not receive any funding under FP7. These are human cloning for reproductive purposes, research intended to modify the genetic heritage of human beings which could make such changes heritable, and research intended to create human embryos solely for the purpose of research or the purpose of stem cell procurement.
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