Research structure and research policy

For several decades, the European Union has supported research, science and technology by means of political measures in order to encourage cooperation between all those involved in European research and take better advantage of the European Union’s potential in the areas of industry and innovation. Sharing technological knowledge and forward-looking ideas will strengthen Europe’s competitiveness. That is why research policy plays a central role in the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Employment in Europe (2000).

7th Research Framework Programme

The 7th Research Framework Programme started in 2007 and will run until 2013. Its total budget of €54 billion is approximately 60% higher than that of the 6th Framework Programme.
The EU’s Research Programme is subdivided into seven Specific Programmes, according to which European research activities are structured:

The first five of these Specific Programmes make up the European Community's Framework Programme; the final two form the Euratom Framework Programme, which has a duration of five years (2007-2011).

The Research Framework Programme is to contribute to the creation of a European Research Area, which will be an important step towards the establishment of a dynamic and knowledge-based economy. Improving the coordination of research activities at EU level has the aim of increasing growth and international competitiveness.

The European Research Area

In the EU, 80% of public research activities take place at a national level. Owing to this lack of integration, the potential of European research is not being used as effectively as possible.

In order to tackle this issue, the initiative of creating a European Research Area (ERA) was launched under former EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. It was proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication ‘Towards a European Research Area’. The Lisbon European Council reiterated this goal in March 2000.

The European Research Area includes three concepts:

  • The creation of an “internal market” for research; in other words, an area of free movement of knowledge, researchers and technology, with the aim of increasing cooperation, stimulating competition and achieving a better allocation of resources;
  • A restructuring of the European “research fabric”, in particular by means of improved coordination of national research activities and policies; 
  • The development of a European research policy that not only addresses the funding of research activities, but also takes account of all relevant aspects of other EU and national policies.


SICAs (specific international cooperation actions) are FP7 instruments to strengthen international cooperation. To learn more:

download PDF