The Framework Programme was developed as the main the European Union’s research-related policy instrument. European Institutions dedicated financial resources to this new policy instrument, and over the years, the budget increased and thematic priorities, intervention modalities and financial support have been adapted to the emerging needs of the EU.
The 1986 Single European Act
The SEA was approved with the aim of strengthening the technological and scientific basis of the European industry and fostering it to become more competitive at the international level.
It introduced a new criterion to the Second Framework Programme (1987-1991) which was the social and economic cohesion of the Community. The total budget was 5.4 billion euros, dedicated to the following objectives:
● Larger market and information and communication society – 42.2%
● Energy – 21%
● Modernization of the industrial sectors – 15.7%
● Others like the quality of life, improvement of the European S&T cooperation etc. 5.3 %
The Third Framework Programme (1990-1994), having a total budget of 6.6 billion euros, began with the objective to strengthen the scientific and technological understanding of the European industry. It also aimed at encouraging competition among the industries across Europe on a global scale by supporting research centres, universities and enterprises in their research and development activities. The most significant innovative feature of the FP3 was CRAFT, which was a new scheme for SMEs with little to no research resources.
The Fourth Framework Programme, (1994-1998) had double the budget of the previous FP3. In addition to the existing research fields (Environment, Information and Communication Technologies, Life Sciences and Technologies, Energy, Transport and Targeted Socio-Economic Research, Industrial technologies), some major changes were also introduced. Three horizontal programmes were also implemented:
● Promotion of RTD co-operation with third-world countries and international organizations
● Dissemination and optimization of results
● Training and mobility of researchers
The Fifth Framework Programme (1990–2002) with a budget of 14.96 billion was conceived to respond to significant socio-economic challenges in a new and improved way. It focused on three main criteria, discussed as follows.
● Social objectives
● Economic development and S&T prospects
● European added value
To maximize its impact, the FP5 concentrated only on four thematic programmes like the quality of life, management of living resources, competitive and sustainable growth, user-friendly information society; Energy,
Environment and sustainable development. Three horizontal programmes were also conducted, as described below.
● Confirming the role of Community research internationally
● Encouragement of participation of SMEs and promotion of innovation
● Improving research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base
The most innovative feature of the Fifth Framework Programme was the concept of Key Actions defined as a group of projects ranging from scientific to technological doctrines addressing a specific problem.