1. Introduction The Lisbon Strategy aimed at Europe becoming the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. Research and development and innovation play a key role in the implementation of this strategy. The vision of a European Research Area (ERA) was launched by the Commission in 2000. This vision embraces a better coordination among national activities and joint efforts for an improved exploitation of joint European resources for research. The EU uses the Framework Programme (FP) as its main instrument for implementing research policy. In other words, the FP is one way of putting ERA into practical effect. Indeed, EU Framework Programmes have been implemented since 1984 and they have encouraged closer European cooperation on research projects of European interest. However, the high level objectives and the specific targets agreed upon by Member States in Lisbon in 2000 have attached a more important role to the 6th one of the FPs. The Sixth Framework Programme, officially launched in 2002, can be considered as the scientific and technological tool of the EU in its attempts to become a world power. Turkey joined the FP6 as an Associated Candidate Country towards the end of 2002. It had the disadvantage of not having any experience from the previous FPs. On the other hand, since a lot in instruments, concepts, implementation etc was new in FP6, it could be said that Turkey was at an advantage because it did not have the confusion stemming from the past experiences that could blur the minds. Unfortunately, Turkey has been quite unsuccessful during the first half of the FP6, whichever implication the word ‘unsuccessful’ may have. This fact has been clearly stated in the following document:
EU Commission, 2004 Regular Report on Turkey’s Progress towards Accession, 06.10.2004, pg. 123: Under the calls for proposals launched under the Sixth Framework Programme so far, the success rate of Turkish applicants has been low. It is vital to take further significant steps to increase both the quantity and quality of Turkish participation in the Sixth Framework Programme.
Obviously, during the preparation of the present report and its consideration through the appropriate channels, the lifetime of FP6 will near the end, at least its calls. Thus, the recommendation of the EU Commission on Turkey in FP6 should be extended to the 7th FP.
Why has the success rate of Turkish applicants been low? Among the many possible factors, one could immediately cite the following: Unknown profile of the Turkish RTD and SME community in Europe; inexperience of the Turkish RTD and SME community in preparing proposals according to the FP standards; the low success rate of the proposals (~15-20%) originating even from the Member States and even lower success rates of the Turkish proposals; lack of sufficient information on FP6; language barrier; not enough personal contacts in EU countries. Turkey considers the FPs as valuable opportunities to companies, research bodies and higher education institutes to participate in high-quality research in collaboration with European counterparts. FPs are accepted to be crucially important in supporting the research base of a country and in increasing the credibility of its research system. FPs contribute to the creation of a well-qualified, technologically aware workforce. Because of the special emphasis in the ERA philosophy, FPs are expected to lead to research results feeding back to the society either as an increased economic input or improved services. Participation of the Turkish RTD and SME community actively in the collaborative projects and networks opened up through FP will contribute to the scientific and technological progress of the country and to her integration with the EU, at least in RTD area. Turkey considers this integration as the real value for money.
2. Presentation of Turkish Views on 7th Framework Programme On June 16, 2004, the EU Commission issued a consultation paper Science and Technology, the key to Europe’s future – Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research setting out the main pillars and indicative budget of the proposed Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for the period 2006 to 2010. The present Turkish position paper aims to contribute to the discussions on this consultation paper and also to make suggestions to improve the Turkish success in the coming FPs whenever possible. Active, successful participation of Turkey in the 7th EU Framework Programme will be one of the key building blocks in the integration mentioned in the previous section and in approaching a knowledge-based economy.
2.1 European Centres of Excellence
The Commission stresses the importance of the programmes which support transnational collaboration between research centres, universities and companies and which have an observable impact on the quality of research in Europe and on the dissemination of knowledge and results within the Union. The “networks of excellence - NoE” and the “integrated projects - IP” are cited as some of the tools for this purpose.
Turkey has had setbacks in participating in, especially, NoEs. IPs are hard-science, topic-oriented projects. If there are no, say, research institutions in Turkey which can really contribute to this real hard-science research project, it is understandable that no Turkish partner can take part in it. On the other hand, the Turkish understanding of NoE has always been for the establishment of a Center of Excellence in the FP6 countries around, of course, a topic. In spite of the fact that the network would still work around a research topic (JPA), it was our understanding that the more important purpose of the network would be bringing the best centers of almost all the FP6 countries together for their unification in ERA. The more advanced centers would pull up their counterparts which were at a disadvantage. That is why NoEs had training, exchange of staff, PhD student support, etc more emphasized in their goals. Unfortunately, this concept of NoE did not find much support along the way and even the Marimon Report stated that NoEs did not need to embrace all possible FP6 countries. Indeed, the Report further stated that NoEs should incorporate a few partners each with a large number of contributors. Such an understanding of NoE has, of course, affected the number of Turkish partners in NoEs negatively. On the other hand, the number of NoEs to be supported in FP6 has, in practice, been decreased. This approach is being supported by Turkey because NoEs turned out to be a very exclusive entities in which a very limited number of high quality research centers can take part. NoEs are not all embracing. They are like special clubs for special centers. On the other hand, Turkey still believes in the necessity of the creation of a system of a network which embraces all possible FP6 countries around a specific research area to pull up those centers at a disadvantage to the level of the others. We believe that the ERA philosophy has some touch in it which provides room for such a unification of the FP6 world. It is hoped that there will be some realization of this view in FP7.
2.2 European Technological Initiatives (Technology Platforms) At the initiative of the Commission and industry, “technology platforms” are being set up, which bring together companies, research institutions, the financial world and regulatory authorities at European level to define a common research agenda which should mobilise a critical mass of (national and European) public and private resources. Although initially it has been stated that it will be possible to implement the agenda by means of IPs, some more recent information reveals that the implementation will be in the form of some seed money by means of SSAs. Indeed, there are indications that there may be a rethink from the Commission on what a Technology Platform may involve and there may not be substantial EU funding provided.
It appears that the understanding and implementation of Technology Platforms are still at an early stage. Turkey is cautious pending a clear definition of the program and its implementation. There are those who question whether the program will turn out to be a means of supporting those companies which are already at the leading edge in their areas. The funding may unintentionally turn out to become a continuous on-going subsidy to Europe’s large research performers. One of the goals of FPs is wide dissemination of research results. It is understandable that large companies may prefer to internalise and retain as much of the intellectual property from research as possible within their organisations. There may turn out to be a potential conflict between the goals of wide dissemination of research results and the requirements of large companies. Technology Platforms imply large scale projects. It is wished that smaller firms and research centers will still have opportunities for clustering activity. Technology Platforms may provide room for this or the FP may show special interest in this matter.
2.3 Basic Research According to the Commission, open competition between individual research teams and support for them at European level would boost the dynamism, creativity and excellence of European research whilst increasing its visibility. A mechanism should be created so that projects would be proposed by researchers on their own initiative, without thematic constraints, on subjects of their choice. Projects would then be selected, without any obligation for transnational collaboration, on the basis of their scientific excellence, as assessed by peer review.
The idea is very exciting subject to the following questions and/or modifications: Will this concept of ‘basic research’ not contradict the basic philosophy of ERA and the basic recommendations of the Lisbon criteria; namely that the knowledge acquired should lead to economic feedback to the society or the improvement of the services? Will smaller “more innovative” research centers be at a disadvantage in competing against larger more established research centers? It would probably be more encouraging if the ‘Basic Research’ program is ‘more’ open to emerging researchers and not just established scientists. Moreover, the funding for basic research should probably be the concern of mostly the national programs.
2.4 Mobility and Training The Commission believes that, against a background of growing competition at world level, it is necessary to strengthen the “Marie Curie” actions. One of the topics on which special emphasis has been placed is the transfer of knowledge, for the benefit in particular of the technologically least advanced regions.
A specially encouraged mobility program for the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) in FP7 programmes should be considered. In FP6, there were a few calls specifically targetting the candidate countries in areas other than the mobility program and they proved to have a great success. A similar approach may be implemented in FP7 for mobility. As an example, this could be a quota allocated for the candidate countries for the programmes like Early Stage Trainings and Research Training Networks. This will certainly have a great impact in structuring the national research area for these countries which probably fall in the category of technologically least advanced regions.
2.5 Research Infrastructures With the creation of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), an important step has been taken in the field of research infrastructures in Europe. The Commission proposes to strengthen this action through the introduction of support for the construction and operation of new infrastructures of European interest.
Turkey, in principle, supports the idea of using FP funds for the construction and operation of new infrastructures which will serve a larger researcher community of the EU rather than a limited number of extremely specialized groups. This means that the topics that the infrastructures to be constructed and operated should cover should address a larger population. Moreover, Turkey, most of all, supports access for European researchers to these infrastructures and facilities. The funds to be used for construction and operation should not be any reason for a decrease in the funds for access.
2.6 Coordination of National Research Programmes The Commission states that the efforts, which have successfully been made to improve the coordination of national research programmes in the context of FP6, must be strengthened. This involves increasing the resources allocated to the ERANET activities for the networking of national programmes, extending the financial support they offer to research activities, and an increased effort towards mutual opening-up.
In total agreement with the Commission, Turkey views the co-ordination of national and regional research programmes and policies as a means of improving the coherence of public research agendas throughout Europe. We believe that this co-ordination is essential for the creation of the ERA. Through such co-ordination, one can envisage information exchange, mutual opening up of Member States and Candidate Countries research and technology development programmes and the launch of common initiatives. During the FP6, opening up of ERA to the Mediterranean partners resulted in qualified researchers of the named countries to be noted and included in the projects and this obviously added value to ERA. This approach should be continued with worldwide expansion. Turkish policy making and funding institutions have generally not been successful in taking part in the co-ordination activities of FP6. Their involvement in ERA-NET proposals is limited. One reason for this limited involvement is probably the lack of information and experience on the Turkish part. On the EU part, one reason may be that the EU Member States are considering this co-ordination within the realm of Article 169 with which Turkey is not associated. Special emphasis should be put on the clarification of this matter in FP7.
2.7 Issues related to the Candidate Countries directly The recently finalized special call for the Associated Candidate Countries (FP6-2004-ACC-SSA-2) has been very successful in promoting highly qualified centres of research and prominent researchers to improve their participation in the FP6. The call helped RTD capacity building in the candidate countries considerably. Along these lines, one can come up with further ideas which may help improve candidate countries’ performance in the FPs. Some are given below:
New calls similar to the ACC-SSA-2 specific call for ACCs should be opened. For example, such a specific call in the near future could be on networking and providing for co-operation among the new Centres of Excellence that have been selected in ACC-SSA-2 with their already existing counterparts in the Member States.
A special call or action to promote mobility of researchers from candidate countries should be published. JRC Enlargement Action could be taken as an example for this action.
Special Coordination Action (CA) calls should be published in order for candidate countries to organize brokerage events and workshops. FP6-2004-IST-3 is a good example of such a promotion action. This call FP6-2004-IST-3 was designed specifically for the “newcomers” (i.e. for the NMS and ACC) to improve their participation in IST research.
Special measures should be developed by the Commission to encourage Member States to include new partners from Candidate Countries in already running projects. This was done at the end of FP5 (related calls: Joint call for proposals to support for the integration of 'newly associated states' (NAS) in the European research area and Call for proposals to extend existing contracts to include partners from the newly associated States).
As in the encouragement of women and SMEs participation in the projects, the ACC participation in consortia should also be encouraged and it should be considered as a positive input in the evaluation process. This should clearly be stressed in the Guides for Proposers.
A final general remark, which should actually concern not only the Candidate Countries but all the FP6 countries, is the following: The administrative procedures should further be simplified in various FP6 (and the future FP7) activities. One of the simplifications may be the shortening of the time taken from notification of success to contract conclusion, which is, at present, more than 12 months in many cases. Another example for simplification may be minimizing the cost of preparing projects. The transparency and consistency of the evaluation process have always been of great concern to almost all applicants. Improvement needs to be made in this matter and also in the level of detail provided to unsuccessful candidates.
2.8 Views on Thematic Priorities In FP6, there are seven thematic priority areas and three sub-priorities (Energy, Transport, Global Change and Ecosystems) and policy-oriented research:
1. Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health
2. Information society technologies
3. Nanotechnologies, multifunctional materials and new production processes
7. Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society
8. Policy Oriented Research
The following two new themes have been proposed by the Commission for FP7:
The Turkish views on some of the already present and proposed thematic priorities are summarized below.
It appears that, with the establishment of a separate Space Research Thematic Priority, the current TP4 Aeronautics and Space will be dropped. The Commission proposal for FP7 argues in favour of a distinct Space Research Programme. This idea is acceptable by Turkey because Space Science and Technology is one of the priority areas decided upon during the Vision2023 study of Turkey. The Commission should somehow realize that Turkish space sector researchers and institutions (such as TAI) should specifically take part in the activities of this thematic priority because of its peripheral location and others.
TP5 Food Quality and Safety should definitely be replaced by another title such as Agri-Food. The main reason for this terminology change is the concept of ‘food’ as generally understood by the Turkish agro-food community. ‘Food’ implies a processed output and, accordingly, ‘food engineering’. The agriculture and veterinary communities do not easily associate themselves with TP5, a fact that has caused some difficulties in Turkey in FP6 activities. Thus, we propose that an FP7 Agri-Food Priority should replace Food Quality & Safety.
The third subthematic priority of TP6 Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems, namely Global Change and Ecosystems, has special importance for Turkey purely because of the reason that one of the topics covered under this priority has vital significance: earthquakes. Turkey, unfortunately, is a natural laboratory for this priority and, accordingly, it should naturally be included in all projects concerned with seismology and earthquakes. This, of course, does not exclude the role that Turkey can play in all other priorities such as atmospheric pollution, water cycle, biodiversity end ecosystems, sustainable management, forecasting and climate modelling.
A number of Member States advocate for Marine Sciences to be incorporated into FP7 as a Horizontal Theme. The idea of having a Marine Science / Resource Development Priority in FP7 is supported by Turkey, too. It is believed that, surrounded by three seas, having one the longest coastal land in Europe and some already well-established related institutions, Turkey should play an important role in the realization of the goals of this newly proposed thematic area.
According to the Commission, security is a major challenge in Europe: the security of individuals, the State, transport and telecommunications networks in the face of organized crime and international terrorism, including bioterrorism and agroterrorism. The Commission proposes to introduce a European Security Research Programme in FP7. The official EC Security Research website is at http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/security/index_en.html. Turkey welcomes the idea heartily as having, again unfortunately, experienced many modes of terrorism. It is almost unthinkable that Turkey can be excluded from any projects aiming at the goals of this thematic priority. Turkey is in the pathway of some international traffic of illegal immigration and drug dealing. The European security starts from Turkey. By co-operating and coordinating efforts on a Europe-wide scale, the EU can better understand and respond to risks in a constantly changing world. This Europe-wide scale can in no way exclude Turkey. Researchers, institutions and governmental agencies of Turkey have no choice but taking active part in all the activities of the priority. The EU is building towards a large scale Security Research Programme (proposed budget of €1 billion per annum) from 2007. Most of the projects are deemed to be multidisciplinary. There is no Security Research Programme in FP6. However, the EC is currently operating a Preparatory Action in Security Research. This is a small scale research initiative that should lead to a larger Security Research Programme in FP7. Turkey’s National Coordination Office, TUBITAK, has not yet appointed its NCP for Security.
3. Conclusion The Communication of the EU Commission constitutes a good basis for creating and realizing the EU science and technology policy for the years to come. The document will contribute to the strengthening and integrating of European science and, thus, realization of ERA. Turkey expects to be able to play a more significant role in FP7 activities because of both the more experience that she has gained from FP6 and the wider, hopefully positive, profile that she was able to create among the Member States since her joining FP6.