PositionEighth Framework Programme

The Hungarian Presidency's main challenge will be overseeing concrete steps by the European Commission to streamline and make more accessible the framework programmes for research. This obviously falls within the remit of preparing for FP8, the Eighth Framework Programme. It will also have to oversee the initial concrete proposals that the Commission will make to implement its ideas outlined in the Innovation Union.

In many ways, though, the Hungarians will be colouring in sketches made under the Belgian presidency. This is particularly the case with the Innovation Union. In November, research ministers examined key elements they identified in the Commission's newly proposed strategy. The Council then fired off rather detailed conclusions. These contain a clear road map inviting the Commission to start implementing the Innovation Union looking at priorities, among others, of standardisation, eco-innovation, public consultation on the European Research Area, state aid, public procurement, venture capital, selection criteria for European innovation partnerships and innovation indicators.

The Hungarians' job will be to ensure that this message crosses the street from the Council to the Commission. However, the Commission will no doubt try to stick as much as possible to its own original Innovation Union. Proposals that will be eagerly reviewed by ministers include Commission ideas on improving access to finance using the European Investment Bank and...

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