Environmental research to receive €2 billion

The European Commission will be funding €17 billion worth of scientific research over the next three years, of which over €2 billion has been earmarked for environmental projects.

Europe’s 6th Framework Programme, which runs until 2006, will shortly be calling for proposals for projects to be funded by the scheme. Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems, along with energy and transport research, will receive funding from an allocation of €2.1 billion. The simultaneous creation of the European Research Area (ERA) is aimed at linking the best research centres across Europe.

At the launch of FP6, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin hailed the coming of age of nanotechnology, including biodegradable nanopolymers, the promise of a hydrogen, fuel-cell economy, and the great challenge of sustainable development. But he warned that Europe could only achieve its full potential if it invested more in research. While the EU spends 1.9% of its GDP on scientific research, the US spends 2.7% and Japan 3%. Europe aims to boost spending to 3% by 2010.

Busquin also urged Europe to organise itself to ensure the free movement of information, technology and researchers across borders – an internal market of knowledge. Schemes such as ERA, networks of excellence and integrated projects are aimed at linking together research and expertise across Europe on similar themes to build long-term, European-wide programmes.

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