Europe's $86 Billion Research Program To Kick Off In 2007

The Seventh Framework Program--the European Union's next collaborative research plan, scheduled to run until 2013--will likely create nearly 1 million jobs.
LONDON — The Seventh Framework Program (FP7), the European Union's next collaborative research plan scheduled to run from 2007 to 2013, is expected cost about $86 billion. It would create nearly 1 million jobs, according to an impact assessment by the European Commission.

The report, attempts to compare the impact of the proposed plan over the next 25 years with a baseline of moderate growth in European Union research funding and with a "do-nothing" approach.

A key part of FP7 is the European Commission's proposal to double the level of spending to an average of 9.6 billion euros (about $12.3 billion) per year or 67 billion euros (about $86 billion) over the duration of the program. The doubling is cited as necessary to help the European Union fulfill its strategy "to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world," the so-called Lisbon strategy.

The European Union's framework includes broad programs covering everything from life sciences and materials to software and societal aspects of technology adoption. The frameworks have generally included information technology and electronics as major elements. FP7 is expected to include nano-materials and production technologies as one of its major themes, in addition to an enlarged "information society" theme.

The report's premise that nearly 1 million jobs would be created by 2030 is based on estimates of research benefits and the results of the research on the continent's gross domestic product, the European Commission said.

The proposed doubling will create an estimated 925,000 extra jobs in Europe by 2030, of which up to 215,000 will be research positions, the report said.

Depending on funding levels after FP7, the impact assessment also claims that doubling the EU research budget could increase Europe's GDP by up to 1 percent over the same period.

The impact assessment looked at three policy options in particular: a "do-nothing" scenario of ending European Union support for R&D, a "business-as-usual" approach of continuing FP6 in its current form and the proposed FP7 option.

The relative merits of each option were analyzed in the context of globalization, the need for increased growth, competitiveness and jobs, environmental and social concerns and weaknesses in the European research system.

The report suggested that a "do-nothing" approach would mean a GDP drop of 0.84 percent and the loss of about 800,000 jobs, including 87,000 research-related jobs compared with the "business-as-usual" approach.

A "business-as-usual" approach — continuing research funding at current levels, with no change in focus — represents an inadequate response to new challenges facing Europe and to the renewed emphasis placed on the Lisbon agenda, the report said. Furthermore, the expanding European Union, which now has 25 member states, means that maintaining the status quo would result in a fragmented research effort.

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