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6th Framework Programme (2002-2006)

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

6th Framework Programme (2002-2006)

The 6th Framework Programme (FP) for Research and Technological Development, which was in force from 2002 to 2006, has now been superseded by the 7th FP, for the period 2007 to 2013. As its name implies, the 6th FP was the overall framework for the EU's activities in the field of science, research and innovation in the 2002-06 period. Its principal objective was to contribute to the creation of a genuine European Research Area (ERA) by fostering more integration and coordination in Europe's previously fragmented research sector.


Decision No 1513/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2002 concerning the sixth framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities, contributing to the creation of the European Research Area and to innovation (2002-2006).


Scientific and technological development is essential for the smooth functioning of industrialised countries like the Member States of the European Union (EU) and the candidates for EU membership. In particular, it contributes to growth and employment, to the protection of consumers and the environment, to greater competitiveness and to resolving the big issues facing society (ageing populations, globalisation, climate change, etc.).

Research and innovation in Europe currently seems too fragmented to face up effectively to today's challenges. It was with this in mind that the European Commission, the Member States, the European Parliament, the scientific community and industry decided to pool their efforts to create a strongly international " European Research Area (ERA)".

Alongside national efforts and other activities involving scientific cooperation at European level, the 6th FP will be the EU's main legal and financial instrument for implementing the ERA.

The main aims of the 6th FP are to:

  • support cooperation in the field of research;
  • promote mobility and coordination;
  • harness research and innovation in the service of other EU policies.


The framework programme envisages the introduction of two new instruments: networks of excellence and integrated projects.

  • the aim of networks of excellence is progressively to integrate the activities of partners networked through "virtual" centres of excellence;
  • integrated projects are substantial projects aimed at constituting a critical mass in research activities focusing on clearly defined scientific and technological objectives.

At the same time, there are plans to use an instrument provided for in the Treaty but so far never deployed: the EU will participate in research programmes undertaken by several Member States.


The 6th framework programme comprises three major specific programmes:

  • integrating and strengthening the ERA, including the thematic priorities;
  • structuring the ERA;
  • strengthening the foundations of the ERA.
  • It includes, in particular:
  • the activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC);
  • nuclear energy;
  • the activities of the JRC under Euratom.

The total budget for the 6th FP is 17.5 billion, 16.270 billion of which is for the European Community (EC) part and 1.230 billion for the Euratom part. The framework programme will last for four years from 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2006.

Integrating and strengthening the European Research Area

This specific programme has funds of 13.345 billion. It is structured around seven thematic priorities:

The programme also includes a number of specific activities covering a wider field of research.

For life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health, the aim will be to help Europe exploit research results in the field of genomes of living organisms, particularly for the benefit of public health, and to increase the competitiveness of the European biotechnology industry. The budget for this priority is 2.255 billion.

As for information society technologies, the aim will be to stimulate the development of hardware and software technologies, and of applications to allow European citizens to benefit fully from the development of the knowledge-based society. This priority has been allocated a budget of 3.625 billion.

As regards nanotechnologies, intelligent materials and new production processes, the goal will be to help stakeholders to secure the wherewithal to develop and exploit research into supramolecular architecture and macromolecules and their applications for chemistry, health, etc. The priority has a budget of 1.3 billion.

Work on aeronautics and space will be geared to strengthening the scientific and technological bases of the European aeronautics and space industry with a view to improving safety and environmental protection. The relevant budget comes to 1.075 billion.

On food safety and risks to health, the aim will be to establish the scientific and technological basis for producing and distributing safer, healthier and more varied food. The budget for this priority has been set at 685 million.

The objective as regards sustainable development, global change and ecosystems (which includes research in the area of energy and transport), will be to implement sustainable development, taking in environmental, economic and social objectives, including renewable energies, transport and sustainable management of Europe's land and marine resources.

Finally, the citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society priority will aim to mobilise European research capacities in economic, political, social and human science in order to build a knowledge-based society. Here the budget comes to 225 million.

The specific activities covering a wider field of research are the following:

  • policy support and anticipating scientific and technological needs;
  • horizontal research activities involving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • specific measures in support of international cooperation;
  • non-nuclear activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC).

Providing policy support and anticipating scientific and technological needs should make it possible to attain the fundamental objectives of the Community by facilitating the formulation and implementation of Community policies where certain requirements cannot be satisfied under the thematic priorities. The budget for this is 555 million.

  • The horizontal research activities involving small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will be aimed at helping European SMEs in traditional or new areas to boost their technological capacities and develop their ability to operate on a European and international scale. Funds of 430 million will be set aside for these activities. Specific measures in support of international cooperation will encourage international research cooperation in the developing countries, Mediterranean countries (including the Western Balkans), Russia and the New Independent States (NIS). These measures will be funded to the tune of 315 million. Finally, the non-nuclear activities of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) should provide independent scientific and technical support in cooperation with scientific circles, national research organisations, universities and businesses in Europe. The budget for this is 760 million.

Structuring the European Research Area

A budget of 2.605 billion has been allocated to this specific programme, which covers four areas of activity:

  • research and innovation;
  • human resources and mobility;
  • research infrastructures;
  • science and society.

As regards research and innovation, the objective is to stimulate technological innovation, the utilisation of research results, transfer of knowledge and technologies and the setting up of technology businesses throughout Europe, particularly in the less developed regions. 290 million of the budget will be used for this.

As for human resources and mobility, the specific programme aims to promote training and knowledge transfer so as to help make Europe more attractive to researchers from non-Member States. The budget of 1.58 billion will basically go to twelve so-called "Marie Curie" measures.

For research infrastructures, the emphasis will be placed on accessibility. Funding will amount to 655 million.

Finally, 80 million will be released to encourage the development of harmonious relations between science and society as well as contributing to critical thinking on ethical questions, the precautionary principle, women and science, etc.

Strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area

A budget of 320 million has been allocated to this specific programme. The activities carried out under this heading are intended to step up coordination at national and European levels and to support the coherent development of policies and activities in Europe as regards research and stimulating innovation.


Any legal entity, i.e. any natural or legal person established in accordance with national, international or Community law may ask to participate in the programme and receive support. In other words, universities, international organisations, research institutes, SMEs and large companies may apply for funding.

Until now, it was impossible for a team of researchers from the candidate countries to coordinate a project unless they were partnered with researchers from the EU, but now these countries are treated in the same way as the Member States.

Projects must comply with a specific call for proposals. Research teams and consortia wishing to put forward a proposal in response to a call normally have at least three months to draw up and submit their file.

In order to guarantee equal access to information and the fair treatment of all candidates, calls for proposals are published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and on the Commission Internet pages designed for this purpose.

In parallel, the CORDIS server and the RTD info magazine also provide information. At national level, a network of contact points is there to supply information on the research framework programme. The national authorities assist applicants who have no experience in applying for financial support. The national contact points (NCPs) are independent, decentralised help desks based in the Member States, the candidate countries and other partner countries.

Where possible, project selection will comprise two phases. Participants will first be invited to submit a summary of their proposal. Subsequently, if their application is accepted following the initial selection procedure, they will be invited to submit a detailed proposal.

As for international cooperation, research activities may be pooled in other European cooperation contexts, such as COST (cooperation in the field of scientific and technical research of activities of public interest financed nationally in Europe and coordinated with EU support) and EUREKA (an extra-Community programme for technological research and development based on the mixed financing of activities).

Finally, as to financing, the forms of assistance are as follows:

  • networks of excellence;
  • integrated projects;
  • specific targeted research or innovation projects;
  • participation in programmes implemented by several Member States;
  • specific research projects for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • actions to promote and develop human resources and mobility;
  • coordination actions;
  • specific support actions;
  • integrated infrastructure initiatives;
  • direct actions.


The European Union (EU) has been conducting a policy of research and technological development based on multiannual framework programmes since 1984. The 6th framework programme is now in force and like its predecessors constitutes a useful instrument which exerts a significant impact on research activities in the Member States. To exploit this potential to the full, however, a broader approach is necessary, requiring the creation of a genuine European Research Area, the goal of which is to create an arena to promote the development of Europe's capacity to become one of the driving forces for research worldwide. The ERA is the cornerstone of the 6th framework programme. By improving cooperation between the various economic, social and scientific players, the ERA promotes scientific excellence, competitiveness and innovation.


Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision No1513/2002/EC

Date of application: 1.1.2003Date of expiry: 31.12.2006


L 232 of 29.8.2002


Decision No 1982/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013).

This Decision on the next framework programme for research and technological development forms part of a series of new measures to promote growth and jobs under the next financial programme for 2007-13. The programme has a budget of 50.521 billion and corresponds to four major aims of European research policy, i.e. cooperation, ideas, people and capacities.

Under the "cooperation" programme, support will be given to the whole range of research activities carried out in transnational cooperation, from collaborative projects and networks to the coordination of research programmes. International cooperation between the EU and third countries is an integral part of this action;

The "ideas" programme will lead to the creation of an autonomous European Research Council to support researcher-driven "frontier research" carried out by individual teams competing at the European level, in all scientific and technological fields, including engineering, socioeconomic sciences and the humanities;

The "people" programme will seek to reinforce the activities supporting training and career development of researchers, referred to as "Marie Curie" actions;

Under the "capacities" programme, key aspects of European research and innovation capacities will be supported, namely research infrastructures, research for the benefit of SMEs, unlocking the full research potential in the EU's "convergence" regions, as well as "Science in Society" issues and "horizontal" international cooperation activities.

Communication from the Commission - Investing in research: an action plan for Europe [COM(2003) 226 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Commission Report - Research and technological development activities of the European Union. Annual Report 2002 [COM(2003) 124 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Innovation policy: updating the Union's approach in the context of the Lisbon strategy [COM(2003) 112 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the seventh framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007 to 2013) [COM(2005) 119 final - not published in the Official Journal].

Last updated: 18.09.2007