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EU waves through €54bn science funding package

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As anticipated, technology research is the major beneficiary of a massive research funding plan approved yesterday by the European Parliament. The funding, released under Framework Programme 7 (FP7), is supposed to support several priority areas in science until 2013. It will be formally adopted by the EU on December 5.

In total, FP7 will fund scientific research in the EU to the tune of €54bn and represents a 40 per cent real-terms increase on the previous framework programme's funding package.

It is certainly progress towards the goal of the "Lisbon agenda" which set out to increase Europe's R&D spending to three per cent of GDP, although some are warning that even with this boost, the deadline of 2010 is unrealistic. Three per cent of the EU's GDP for the period equates to an additional €118bn.

Still, Janez Potocnik, commissioner for science and research at the European Commission, said that the budget was a real improvement over the previous framework, and hailed FP7;'s approval as "a great day" for science in Europe.

Of all the disciplines, technology gets the largest slice, having been allocated a whopping €9.1bn. This, a spokesperson for the EU explained, is because advances in technology will affect many other areas, so investment in technology generates good returns.

Antonia Mochan, spokesperson for science and research at the European Commission, told the BBC: "It is also an enabling technology...miniaturising a chip for example, or making it as bendy as paper, can apply across a whole range of different industrial sectors. So its potential is that much greater than in some other areas."

Other big winners include health (€6bn), transport (€3bn) and nanotechnology (€3bn). Climate research did not score as highly as many expected: it was allocated €1.8bn until 2013. Energy research fared a little better, receiving €2bn for the period. ®

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