EU R&D into port technologies

Summary

European Research Policy is included in Article 163 of the European Treaty, which describes how Member States will work together in Research and Development. It  has been running since 1972 with the COST Programme (European COoperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research) being the first as well as the  widest European network for the coordination of nationally funded research activities. In late 1982, the European Commission launched the European Strategic  Programme for Information Technology (ESPRIT), upon which the basic structure of the 1st Framework Programme (FP) 1984-1988 was modelled to this day, with the latest being FP7 2007-2013. Port and maritime transport subjects have been present since FP4, both as individual research as well as horizontal issues developed in Environment, Safety, Security, ICT, Space or Socio-economic areas.

The Port Authority of Gijon (Spain) has been participating in EU R&D activities since 1992 in the 3rd R&D Framework Programme. Presently, it has a record of more  than 50 R&D projects, covering all areas related to port and maritime transport infrastructure and services.

Background

Article 163 concerning R&D in the Treaty establishing the European Union says: “The Community shall have the objective of strengthening the scientific and  technological bases of Community industry and encouraging it to become more competitive at international level, while promoting all research activities deemed  necessary by virtue of other chapters of this Treaty.”

Before discussing the key issues in EU R&D programmes, it is first necessary to understand the background to these programmes and the main players involved.  The Member States of the European Union first come together in order to prepare a treaty. This describes the areas where they wish to cooperate. These topics  include Energy, ICT, Security, Transport, etc. Article 163 of the Treaty describes how the Member States will work together in R&D. Following this, the European  Commission of the European Union prepare common policies. The targeted areas include Maritime Policy, Port Policy, Space Policy, Enterprise Policy, Regional  Policy and Social Policy. To implement these Policies, the European Union has two instruments: legislation, such as Decisions, Directives, Guidelines, White Books  and Funding Programmes, such as Framework Programme, LIFE, GMES.

The catalytic events for the European Framework Programmes came in the early 1980s in response to widespread concern about the technological competitiveness  of European industry, in particular high-tech industr ies (for excellent accounts of the history of EU research policy, see Peterson and Sharp 1998; Guzetti 1995). In late  1982, the European Commission launched the European Strategic Programme for Information Technology (ESPRIT), upon which the basic structure of the later  Framework Programmes was patterned.

In 1984, the various existing and proposed programmes were fused into the First Framework Programme (FP1), institutionalising the model established by ESPRIT. This represented an attempt by the European Commission to design a comprehensive science and technology policy that would give coherence to its Research and  Technological Development (RTD) efforts and provide a means for selecting European scientific and technological objectives, co-ordinating Community and national  policies, and ensuring the necessary funding.

COST – together with EUREKA and the EU framework programmes – is one of the three pillars of joint European research initiatives. These three complementary  structures have differing areas of research. COST – European COoperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research – was the first andis the widest European network for the coordination of nationally funded research activities. It is based on an inter-governmental framework for cooperation agreed following a Ministerial Conference in 1971. As a precursor of advanced multidisciplinary research, COST plays a very important role in building a European Research Area (ERA).

Humberto Moyano, Director, Port R&D Department, Port Authority of Gijon, Spain
Edition: Edition 42

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