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Ten major new EU research infrastructures welcomed by European Commission

Infectious diseases, carbon dioxide management, natural disasters warning, space observation: they are among the top priorities areas where 10 new Pan-European Research Infrastructures will be set up.

The European Commission is supporting this commitment as a key step in building the European Research Area and addressing the most important needs of society.

This new wave of Research Infrastructures was unveiled today at the European Conference on Research Infrastructures 2008, jointly organised by the European Commission and the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), in Versailles. The roadmap will include ambitious projects such as high security labs for research on fatal human pathogens, cutting edge installations to test technologies for carbon dioxide capture and storage, state-of-the-art radars to study the Earth's atmosphere, infrastructures to better understand the physical processes controlling earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis and new generation telescopes for high-energy gamma-ray astronomy.

Commenting on this update, Janez Potoènik, European Commissioner for Science and research said "Developing world class infrastructures is an essential part of building the European Research Area, and must be one of the priorities of the EU and national recovery plans. To get these infrastructures operational quickly, I hope that Member States will also avoid any further delays in adopting the proposal for a European legal framework for European research infrastructures (ERI). This legal status, tailor-made for international cooperation on major projects, will reduce the administrative burdens and time-wasting involved in negotiating VAT status, excise rules and public procurement on a case-by-case basis. We have no time to lose in developing "smart" investments in research."

The 10 new infrastructures have been identified by ESFRI, composed of representatives of Member States. This followed an intensive consultation process, involving more than 200 experts. They constitute an update of the ESFRI Roadmap describing the needs for pan-European Research Infrastructures for the next 10-20 years presented in 2006. 35 key European projects across many fields of science and technology had been identified.

Today's update brings the number of identified priority projects to 44 Research Infrastructures in all fields of Science. In total 34 of the 35 projects on the Roadmap 2006 were endorsed and 10 new infrastructures are proposed. Among these ten new projects retained are (see Annex):

3 projects in the field of Environmental Sciences

4 projects in Biological and Medical Sciences

1 project non-nuclear Energy

1 Project in Materials and Analytical Facilities

1 project in Physical Sciences and Engineering

The thirty-four (34) projects from the initial roadmap are today supported in their preparatory phases through the European Commission Framework Programmes for Research and Development (FP). Each preparatory phase benefits from 4 M€ of FP contribution on average, to provide a catalytic and leveraging support leading to the construction of the new research infrastructures or major upgrades of the existing ones. To support these new developments the Commission plans to open a FP7 call for proposals, at the end of 2009.

A key role for the European Union

The EU actions aim to optimise the use and development of the best existing research infrastructures in Europe. The EU budget for research infrastructures has increased from 730 M€ in 6th FP to more than 1,700 M€ in 7th FP for triggering such a joint development and operation in all fields of science and technology.

For existing infrastructures, the EU FPs currently support the integration of more than 60 categories of existing research installations, from synchrotrons to genomics databases, from high-performance computers to environmental observatories. It directly helps the networking of more than 350 research infrastructures. It also directly supports each year several thousands of European researchers and scientists to travel to the facilities in order to carry out their experiments, and several hundreds of thousands of European users to retrieve essential data sets via internet.

For more information on EU Research infrastructures and the role of ESFRI see

Patrick Vittet-Philippe | alfa
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