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18.2.1.  Research provisions of the European Treaties

    Article 179 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU (ex Article 163 TEC) asserts that the Union has the objective of strengthening its scientific and technological bases by achieving a European research area in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely, and encouraging it to become more competitive, including in its industry, while promoting all the research activities deemed necessary by virtue of other Chapters of the Treaties. To this end, it adds, the Union shall in all the Member States encourage undertakings, including small and medium-sized enterprises, research centres and universities, in their research and technological development activities of high quality. Through its support for their cooperation efforts, the Union aims to enable undertakings to draw full benefit from the potential of the internal market, in particular through the opening up of national public contracts, the definition of common standards and the removal of legal and fiscal obstacles to cooperation.

    The Union and the Member States coordinate their research and technological development activities (Article 181 TFEU, ex Article 165 TEC). In pursuit of the objectives detailed in Article 179 (TFEU), the Union conducts the following priority activities, complementing the R & D activities in the Member States (Article 180 TFEU, ex Article 164 TEC):

    (a)     implementation of research, technological development and demonstration programmes, by promoting cooperation with and between undertakings, research centres and universities;

    (b)     promotion of cooperation in the field of Union research, technological development and demonstration with third countries and international organisations;

    (c)     dissemination and optimisation of the results of activities in Union research, technological development and demonstration; and

    (d)     stimulation of the training and mobility of researchers in the Union.

    The European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure [see section 4.3], after consulting the Economic and Social Committee, adopt a multiannual framework programme, which establishes the scientific and technological objectives to be achieved by the activities provided for in Article 180 and fix the relevant priorities (Article 182 TFEU, ex Article 166 TEC) [see section 18.2.2]. The Union may set up joint undertakings or any other structure necessary for the efficient execution of Union research, technological development and demonstration programmes (Article 187 TFEU, ex Article 171 TEC) [see sections 18.2.6 and 18.3.2]. The main innovation of the Lisbon treaty is the European space policy, which may promote joint initiatives, support research and technological development and coordinate the efforts needed for the exploration and exploitation of space (Article 189 TFEU) [see section 17.3.4].

    The Euratom Treaty gives an even more important place to the development of (nuclear) research, devoting its first Chapter to it [see section 2.1]. Article 4 makes the Commission responsible for promoting and facilitating nuclear research in the Member States and for complementing it by carrying out a European Atomic Energy Community research and training programme. For purposes of coordinating and complementing research undertaken in Member States, the Commission calls upon Member States, persons or undertakings to communicate to it their programmes relating to the research which it specifies in the request. By its opinions the Commission should discourage unnecessary duplication and should direct research towards sectors which are insufficiently explored, of which it should publish at regular intervals a list [Article 5 EAEC].

    Euratom research and training programmes are determined by the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission, which consults the Scientific and Technical Committee. The funds required for carrying out these programmes are included each year in the research and investment budget of the European Atomic Energy Community [Article 7 EAEC]. After consulting the Scientific and Technical Committee, the Commission establishes a joint Nuclear Research Centre [Article 8 EAEC], which is now called Joint Research Centre [see section 18.2.4]. The Commission may, by contract, entrust the carrying out of certain parts of the Community research programme to Member States, persons or undertakings, or to third countries, international organisations or nationals of third countries [Article 10 EAEC]. To encourage the carrying out of research programmes communicated to it the Commission may: provide financial assistance within the framework of research contracts; supply, either free of charge or against payment source materials or special fissile materials; place installations, equipment or expert assistance at the disposal of Member States, persons or undertakings, either free of charge or against payment; promote joint financing by the Member States, persons or undertakings concerned [Article 6 EAEC].

    The second Chapter of the Euratom Treaty is given over to the dissemination of information. As regards information which is owned by the Community, Member States, persons or undertakings shall have the right, on application to the Commission, subject to suitable remuneration, to obtain non-exclusive licences under patents, rights, etc., which belong to the Community [Article 12 EAEC]. The Commission must communicate free of charge to the Member States, persons and undertakings any non-patentable information acquired by the Community [Article 13 EAEC]. As regards information, which the Community does not own, the Commission must endeavour, by amicable agreement, to secure both the communication of information, which is of use to the Community in the attainment of its objectives and the granting of licences under patents, rights etc., covering such information [Article 14 EAEC].

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