The European Commission has earmarked €13 million from the budget of the EU's Sixth Research Framework Programme (FP6) (2002-2006) to promote and facilitate research co-operation with the 13 associated candidate countries for the integration and strengthening of the European Research Area (ERA).
The call for project proposals- open until 26 June 2003 -is part of a series of specific support actions to stimulate, encourage and facilitate candidate countries' participation in FP6, where they have for the first time equal rights and obligations with the member states prior to their accession to the EU.
The Commission is aiming to select one or more entities in each associated candidate country in order to establish a virtual network, involving all national contact points for exchanging best practices and training for preparing project proposals.
In addition, the budget will go towards assisting SMEs in partner search, consortia agreements and project development.
The aim of the general activities to be financed is also to promote candidate countries' competencies and network their high quality research centres with scientific establishments in the member states. These may be information and awareness events to promote FP6 participation, training schemes and/or initiatives to assist candidate countries' researchers for taking part in international conferences and with project development.
The Commission will also finance specific actions in the activities of the following FP6 priority thematic areas including nanotechnologies and nanosciences, aeronautics and space, food quality and safety and sustainable energy systems.
In July 2003 the Commission is planning to launch special actions for the thematic priority areas of "Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health" and "Global change and ecosystems".