Friday, 2 January 2009

EU Law: European research coordination

The European research area is gradually taking shape on the ground and the excruciatingly slow process of treaty reform would incorporate some new elements at treaty level, if the EU Treaty of Lisbon enters into force.

The voluntary open method of coordination (OMC) would be enshrined at treaty level with regard to coordination of European Community (European Union) and member states’ policies concerning research and technological development.

How do you evaluate the European Union’s future as a knowledge based society?


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Article 165 TEC


Article 163 TEC (ex Article 130f) set out the research and technology aims of the European Community (European Union), namely to:

1. strengthen the scientific and technological bases of industry,
2. make industry more competitive internationally and
3. promote other research activities.

Article 164 TEC (Article 130g) built on the preceding Article by presenting more concrete activities to achieve the objectives. The Community activities complement the activities in the member states.

Community research activities are to:

1. implement research, technological development and demonstration programmes,
2. promote international cooperation,
3. disseminate and optimise research results, and
4. stimulate training and mobility of researchers.

Article 165 TEC (ex Article 130h) takes up the coordination of research and technological development activities between the European Community and the member states.

The aim is consistency between national policies and Community policy.

The Commission has a non-specified right to take initiatives to promote coordination (but this is not a base for legal acts).

The current Article 165 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC), as published in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, OJEU 29.12.2006 C 321 E/121:

(TITLE XVIII
RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT)

Article 165 TEC

1. The Community and the Member States shall coordinate their research and technological development activities so as to ensure that national policies and Community policy are mutually consistent.

2. In close cooperation with the Member State, the Commission may take any useful initiative to promote the coordination referred to in paragraph 1.


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Original Lisbon Treaty (ToL)

Article 2, point 137 of the Lisbon Treaty amended Article 165 TEC (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/86):

137) The following shall be added at the end of Article 165(2): ‘, in particular initiatives aiming at the establishment of guidelines and indicators, the organisation of exchange of best practice, and the preparation of the necessary elements for periodic monitoring and evaluation. The European Parliament shall be kept fully informed.’.

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Renumbering the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL)

The Table of equivalences of the original Treaty of Lisbon tells us that Title XVIII first became Title XVIII with the addition of space in the TFEU (ToL), and renumbered Title XIX Research and technological development and space in the consolidated version.

Article 165 TEC initially became Article 165 TFEU (ToL) before the renumbering of the treaty made it into Article 181 TFEU in the consolidated version of the Lisbon Treaty (OJEU 17.12.2007 C 306/217–218).


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Lisbon Treaty consolidated

Article 181 TFEU

With the specific amendment and after the horizontal amendment replacing the Community by the Union and the renumbering of the Article, Article 181 TFEU appears like this in the consolidated version of the Treaty of Lisbon (OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/129):

(TITLE XIX
RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT AND SPACE)

Article 181 TFEU
(ex Article 165 TEC)

1. The Union and the Member States shall coordinate their research and technological development activities so as to ensure that national policies and Union policy are mutually consistent.

2. In close cooperation with the Member State, the Commission may take any useful initiative to promote the coordination referred to in paragraph 1, in particular initiatives aiming at the establishment of guidelines and indicators, the organisation of exchange of best practice, and the preparation of the necessary elements for periodic monitoring and evaluation. The European Parliament shall be kept fully informed.

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Main changes

The substance of the first paragraph of Article 181 TFEU did not change.

The open-ended Commission right to take legally non-binding initiatives took over the text of Article III-250 of the Constitutional Treaty.

The addition gives the Commission’s activities a certain direction, by importing elements of the open method of coordination (OMC).

As a reminder, we recall the Conclusions of the European Council in Lisbon 23 to 24 March 2000 (point 37):

Implementing a new open method of coordination

37. Implementation of the strategic goal will be facilitated by applying a new open method of coordination as the means of spreading best practice and achieving greater convergence towards the main EU goals. This method, which is designed to help Member States to progressively develop their own policies, involves:

- fixing guidelines for the Union combined with specific timetables for achieving the goals which they set in the short, medium and long terms;

- establishing, where appropriate, quantitative and qualitative indicators and benchmarks against the best in the world and tailored to the needs of different Member States and sectors as a means of comparing best practice;

- translating these European guidelines into national and regional policies by setting specific targets and adopting measures, taking into account national and regional differences;

- periodic monitoring, evaluation and peer review organised as mutual learning processes.




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EU research competence

In the general ordering of European Union competence, the Lisbon Treaty deals with research in under shared competence, but with a particular twist. Article 4(3) TFEU states:

3. In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.


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Commission research activities

The Commission’s Directorate-General Research offers news, information and links to activities concerning research and technological development:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/index.cfm

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Community research legislation

The Commission’s web page Research and innovation serves as a portal to summaries of EC (EU) law with regard to research and technological development:

http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/s23000.htm


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Dear readers, your comments with views and experiences are appreciated.


Ralf Grahn