HC Deb 02 February 1988 vol 126 cc608-9W
Mr. McLoughlin

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress was made at the meeting of the Research Council of European Community Ministers on 21 December 1987, and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The Community's Council of Ministers (Research) met on 21 December in Brussels: I represented Her Majesty's Government.

The Council adopted a revision to the 1985–89 programme on radiation protection. This revision will provide a sum of 10 million ecu (£7 million) for additional work related to the Community's response to the Chernobyl accident.

The Council also adopted common positions on the ESPRIT II programme in information technology and on a revision to the BRITE programme in industrial technology.

ESPRIT II is the largest single programme in the Community's 1987–90 framework programme for research and development. ESPRIT II will, over five years, provide 1600 million ecu (£1120 million) of Community funding for projects in microelectronics and peripheral technologies, information processing systems and application technologies. The same amount of funding will he provided by the industrial partners and other contractors in the ESPRIT projects. The United Kingdom Government expect the ESPRIT II programme to make a major contribution to the research needs of the information technology industry.

The revision to the BRITE programme will provide a further 60 million ecu (£42 million) to support projects in industrial technologies such as wear and resistance, joining technologies, polymers and composite materials and flexible materials. As with ESPRIT, the Community funding is matched by similar contributions from contracting partners.

The United Kingdom has participated fully in this rapid progress towards the implementation of specific programmes within the framework programme. This underlines our commitment to the principle of collaborative research within the Community on programmes which are well defined and meet clear Community needs.

The Research Council also held a first debate on the Commission's proposals for the future programme of the joint research centre. The debate revealed a large measure of agreement that the JRC is in need of very considerable reform. I am hopeful that progress will be made towards this objective over the next few months.

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