EU funding: French unveil presidency priorities for European research


 European funds

Related EU Grant Loans Programme(s):
 New framework programme for research and technology aiming at better exploiting research capacities in Europe and transforming scientific results into new products, processes and services.

The French have set the construction of the European Research Area (ERA) as the main research priority for their presidency of the EU.

Other priorities include boosting Europe’s role in space and making progress towards a Community patent.

The French took over the EU Council Presidency from Slovenia on 1 July. During their time at the helm, they plan to focus on four main areas: energy and the climate; migration issues; agriculture; and security and defence.

In the field of research, the French plan to carry forward the Ljubljana process which was launched under the Slovenian Presidency and sets out a new vision for the ERA.

According to the work programme of the French Presidency, a range of activities designed to define a ‘vision for 2020′ for the ERA will be launched. Among other things, research ministers will discuss the challenges facing European research, with the aim of setting out how the ERA can address priority issues such as energy and climate change, food and agronomy, health and ageing, and the information society.

The French have also set themselves the goal of reaching conclusions on a number of points, namely the joint programme strategy, the mobility of researchers and a strategy for international cooperation in the ERA. They also hope to reach an agreement on the legal framework for pan-European research infrastructures.

Many of these issues will be discussed at an informal meeting of Europe’s research ministers which will be held in Versailles, France, on 16 and 17 July.

Space is another priority identified by the French. Noting that ’space is a significant driver for growth and competitiveness in Europe’, the French state their aim to enhance the EU’s role as a major player in space policy. A meeting of Europe’s aerospace ministers and representatives of the European Commission and European Parliament is planned for September.

Elsewhere, the French pledge to ’strive to make progress towards a Community patent’. This would be standardised throughout the EU, and be affordable while guaranteeing legal security and preserving ‘current linguistic balances’.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not forgotten; the French plan to gain agreement on the measures taken to support SMEs, and will focus in particular on improving access to funding for innovative SMEs, protecting industrial property rights and promoting entrepreneurship.

Research also crops up in the health priorities of the new presidency. One of the three priorities identified by the French is Alzheimer’s disease. ‘The presidency will promote better care for sufferers and their families, based on three strands of action, namely health, solidarity and research,’ the work programme reads. A major European conference on Alzheimer’s disease will be held in Paris in October.

France will hold the Presidency of the EU until the end of the year, when it will hand over to the Czech Republic.


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