The Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP1 through FP8, are funding programmes created by the European Union in order to support and encourage research in the European Research Area (ERA). The specific objectives and actions vary between funding periods.
Conducting European research policies and implementing European research programmes is an obligation under the Amsterdam Treaty, which includes a chapter on research and technological development. To advise the European Commission on the overall strategy to be followed in carrying out the Information and Communication Technology thematic priority, the Information Society Technologies Advisory Group (ISTAG) was set up.
Framework Programme projects are generally funded through instruments, the most important of which are listed below.
Integrating Project (IP)
Medium- to large-sized collaborative research projects funded in FP6 and FP7. They are composed of a minimum of 3 partners coming from 3 different countries from Associated states but can join several tens of partners. The typical duration of such projects is 3 to 5 years but there is not a defined upper limit. The budget granted by the Commission can reach several tens of million euros, paid as a fraction of the actual costs spent by the participants.
IPs specifically aim at fostering European competitiveness in basic research and applied science with a focus on "addressing major needs in society" defined by the Priority Themes of the Framework Programme. Like STRePs (see below), IPs ask for a strong participation of small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to ascertain the translation of research results into commercially viable products or services.
Network of Excellence (NoE)
Medium-sized research projects co-funded by the European Commission in FP6 and FP7. These projects are "designed to strengthen scientific and technological excellence on a particular research topic through the durable integration of the research capacities of the participants."
NoE projects require the minimum participation of three different EU member nations, however, projects are usually expected to involve at least six countries. Projects are provided grants for a maximum of seven years. The budget granted by the Commission is €1-6million per year depending upon the number of researchers involved.
An NoE project should not strictly be considered as a research project, since its aim is not to conduct research, but rather to contribute to the clarification of the concepts in the covered field.
Specific Targeted Research Projects (STReP)
Medium-sized research projects funded by the European Commission in the FP6 and FP7 funding programs. STReP projects are composed by a minimum of 3 partners coming from 3 different countries from Associated states. The typical duration of such projects is 2 to 3 years. In FP6, they generally involved between 6 and 15 partners. The budget granted by the Commission is in average around €2 million.
The framework programmes up until Framework Programme 6 covered five-year periods, but from Framework Programme 7 on, programmes will run for seven years. The Framework Programmes, and their budgets in billions of euros, have been and will be:
budget in billions
€50.521 over 7 years + €2.7 for Euratom over 5 years
The programmes have been criticized on various grounds, such as actually diminishing Europe's industrial competitiveness and failing to deliver fundamental excellence and global economic competitiveness. In 2010 the Austrian Research Promotion Agency launched a petition calling for a simplification of administrative procedures, which attracted over 13,000 signatories. The numerous other criticisms of the petitioners were later distilled into a Green Paper.
^Green Paper From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation funding. Vienna: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) (2011).
^Schafer, B The Taming Of The Sleuth–Problems And Potential Of Autonomous Agents In Crime Investigation And Prosecuting 20th BILETA Conference: Over-Commoditised; Over-Centralised; Over-Observed: The New Digital Legal World? April 2005 Queen’s University Belfast pp1