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EUROPOLAR - The European Polar Consortium: Strategic Coordination and Networking of European Polar RTD

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Summary information

Funding:FP6 - ERA-NET
Total cost:2480000
Ec contribution:2480000
Start date:2005-03-01
End date:2009-02-28
Duration:48 months
Coordinator:Paul Egerton (
Organisation:Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor - France
Project name:EUROPOLAR - The European Polar Consortium: Strategic Coordination and Networking of European Polar RTD
Project summary:Abstract
EUROPOLAR ERA-NET is a consortium of 25 Ministries, Funding Agencies and National Polar RTD Authorities from 19 European countries and of the ESF-European Polar Board. With a combined critical mass of over 500 Million Euros per annum, it is the most significant initiative to coordinate European Polar RTD Programmes ever attempted. EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will exert a massive and positive impact on this domain and lead to long-term durable partnerships within Europe and internationally. EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will also encourage and support the closer relationship of National Polar RTD Programme managers in Europe fostering cooperation and leading to joint Programme activities. EUROPOLAR ERANET will also deepen and strengthen the interactions between countries with large Polar RTD Programmes and nations with evolving Polar Programmes in central and south-eastern Europe, encouraging exchange of experiences and best practice on management and financing of Programmes and infrastructures. The presence of key European and international organizations within EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will open up a vast network of human and material capital. The structuring and coordination of European trans-national elements will enable the construction of mechanisms to mobilize joint funding flows and the reciprocal access to research infrastructures. The long-term goal of the European Polar Consortium is the development of a ‘European Polar Entity’ that will be established through dialogue at a political level beyond the EUROPOLAR ERA-NET and will enable Europe to maximize and direct its critical mass at the global level.

Research and technology in the Polar Regions is fundamental to our understanding of the functioning of the earth system especially in relation to climate change, climate variability and its wide economic and societal impact on European and global populations. European nations have played a central role in scientific research in the Polar Regions throughout the last century. The Polar Regions are central to answering questions of global relevance and importance in modern climate research and its effects. Europe has a high capacity in both research and infrastructure terms in the Polar Regions, the combined critical mass of national polar programmes and assets across Europe exceeds 500 Million Euros per annum. There is a clearly identifiable need for Europe to optimize this high-investment and provide an enhanced utilization of research infrastructures, harmonizing scientific, human and technology capacity. Polar research from its very beginning has been a cooperative activity in large part due to the extreme nature of the environments it requires agreements on a national and more often-international scale to implement very large projects with complex logistics.
“….Europe is at the forefront of international efforts in polar research,” said Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin at the launch, in Bremerhaven (DE) last February, of several Polar research projects being supported by the European Union. “The poles are unique indicators of climate change processes [making] polar research a key element in our overall research effort on global climate change….” Former European Research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin, 2004.

“The Northern Dimension concept covers a broad and diverse geographic area, stretching from the Arctic and sub-Arctic to the southern shores of the Baltic, and from North-West Russian Federation in the East to Iceland and Greenland in the west. The Northern Dimension also pays special attention to regions with specific needs, such as Kaliningrad and the Arctic region.”Former External Relations Commissioner, Chris Pattern, 2004.

The management of national programmes in the Polar Regions is subject to a great deal of variability across Europe, with a complex funding and evaluation architecture, there is a need to simplify and harmonize these systems to produce a coherent set of interlinked and fully networked agencies. The common access to a suite of world class Polar Infrastructures that are dedicated to supporting at a national level a wide range of Scientific programme disciplines. To avoid duplication of research efforts and to better understand the differences in scale of operation for Arctic and Antarctic science campaigns, EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will analyze and compare the structural and management approaches from its partner countries resulting in strategies to harmonize these systems on a trans-national basis. The Landscape of Research in Europe has been dramatically changed during the 6th framework programme with emphasis placed on the Lisbon Agenda and the development of a ‘European Research Area’ leading to the Europe’s aspirations of becoming the most competitive knowledge based Economy in the world by 2010. EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will establish the unique conditions for a durable cooperation between European research programmes in the Polar Regions. EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will strive to enhance and maintain Europe’s premier capacity for research in the Polar Regions by building a framework of sufficient scale and critical mass to facilitate, promote and sustain intellectual interchange in the international research arena. Agreements between National Polar RTD funding agencies and ministries have historically been at a bilateral level and the structures and mechanisms for internal agreement amongst European nations on multinational agreements are still lacking or need testing. This requirement for an enhanced coordination and management at a Pan-European scale in Polar Research, driven by success of programmes such as EPICA (European Project Ice Coring in Antarctica) which has acted as a model for the way in which a group of 10 nations can implement with pooled funding a major scientific research programme which addresses global concerns. This model needs to be applied in a wider context to Polar RTD programmes on the new and exciting frontiers.

The Consortium that forms EUROPOLAR ERA-NET comprises 25 funding agencies, national ministries and Polar Authorities from 19 countries in Europe including key new accession states, candidate states to the EU and external states such as Russian Federation . The composition of the consortium represents every significant actor and European nation with Arctic and Antarctic research programme activities. EUROPOLAR therefore represents the most significant initiative to network European Polar RTD Programmes ever attempted.
General Objectives for the EUROPOLAR ERA-NET comprise:
- Creating the conditions for a gradual deepening of the interaction between National Polar RTD Programmes in order to mobilize and coordinate the existing critical mass of infrastructures, human capital to maximize the impact of European Polar activities.
- Contributing to the establishment of leading edge collaborative Polar Research Centres and supporting the intellectual development of the next generation of Polar Research specialists especially in new and candidate nations of the Union.
- Supporting the EC Northern Dimension Action Plan by creating research opportunities (RTD programmes, researcher mobility and support mechanisms) relevant for the Arctic issues.
- Generating a prototype advisory and policy support mechanism for European Governments in the Polar Regions.
- Enabling the integration of new accession and candidate states to the European Union by the stepwise and agreed mutual opening of Europe’s Polar RTD Programmes and strengthening the relationship between Europe and the Russian Federation through cooperation between consortium partners.
- Optimizing the management and utilization of European Polar facilities and assets.
- Providing the focus of European strategic activities in the Polar Regions through the development of a common European planning and research implementation framework.

The principle benefits arising from EUROPOLAR ERA-NET will be:
- Structuring the environment and landscape of Europe’s Polar RTD programmes to allow fully trans-national research programmes and enhanced access to Polar Research infrastructures.
- Enabling National Polar RTD Agencies to build strong multilateral partnerships within and outside Europe.
- Enabling the effective integration of new accession and candidate countries of the European Union through involvement in extensive Polar RTD activities.
- Delivering high quality science policy advice in support of European Union Policies.
- Consideration of Polar RTD issues, which are beyond the capacities of individual member states and generate sufficient critical mass Increased awareness of policy issues of relevance to the Polar Regions.
- Contributing to the strengthening of the European research and innovation area.
- The development of common management best practice and European research strategies in the Polar Regions.