Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, also called Framework Programmes or abbreviated FP, are funding programmes created by the European Union in order to support and encourage research in the European Research Agenda (ERA).

The Framework Programme came about in 1984, with a view to organize an increasing accumulation of activities by placing them, as the name suggests, in a single ‘framework’. This was done while putting in place, a medium-term ‘programme’, with a budget covering several years, rather than just one time budget.

Path of the Framework Programme – Its Evolution

Framework Programme has been evolved in three main following ways:

  • Continuous increase of the budget, from several hundred million euros up to € 7 billion per annum in the Seventh Framework Programme;
  • Extension of the Union’s activities in new scientific and technological fields; and
  • Diversification of mechanisms, types of financial support and intervention methods with the regular introduction of new formulae resulting in the present-day portfolio which covers both projects and transnational networks for collaboration in research, individual grants, specific measures for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), support schemes for cooperation and coordination at various levels as well as studies and conferences.

First Framework Programme - The First Framework Programme represented a tiny fraction of the total public funding for research in Europe at that time. It covered 3 years time period from 1984-1987.  

Second Framework Programme – Second Framework Programme represented research activities with a budget of 5 billion euros and covered a period from 1987 to 1990.

Third Framework Programme - Third Framework programme of Community activities in the field of research and technological development (1991-1994), unanimously adopted by the Council, was implemented primarily through specific programmes adopted by the Council. The objective of this programme was to strengthen the scientific and technological basis of European industry and to encourage it to become more competitive at international level by supporting, through appropriate measures, enterprises (including small and medium-sized undertakings), research centres and universities in their research and technological development activities. It included following activities:

  • Enabling Technologies: Information and communications technologies; Industrial and materials technologies
  • Management of Natural Resources: Environment; Energy; Life sciences and technologies
  • Management of Intellectual Resources: Human capital and mobility
  • Centralized Action for the Dissemination and Exploitation of Knowledge Resulting from the Specific Programmes

Fourth Framework Programme - With a budget of 13.12 Euro € billion the 4th Framework Programme (FP4) covered all the research and technological development (RTD) activities which were funded by the European Commission during the period 1994-1998. The following activities were covered:

  • Activity 1: Research, technological development and demonstration programmes
  • Activity 2: Cooperation with third countries and international organizations
  • Activity 3: Dissemination and optimization of results
  • Activity 4: Training and mobility of researchers

Fifth Framework Programme - The Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) had two distinct parts: the Fifth European Community Framework Programme covering Research, Technological Development and Demonstration activities; and the Fifth EURATOM Framework Programme covering research and training activities in the nuclear sector. FP5 was for the period 1998 to 2002. FP5 had a multi-theme structure, consisting of seven Specific Programmes, of which four are Thematic Programmes:

  • Quality of Life and management of living resources (Quality of Life)
  • User-friendly information society (IST)
  • Competitive and sustainable growth (GROWTH)
  • Energy, environment and sustainable development (EESD)

And three are Horizontal Programmes, which underpin and complement the Thematic Programmes by responding to common needs across all research areas:

  • Confirming the international role of Community research (INCO 2)
  • Promotion of innovation and encouragement of SME participation (Innovation/SMEs)
  • Improving the human research potential and the socio-economic knowledge base

FP5 was conceived to help solve problems and respond to major socio-economic challenges the EU faced. It focused on a number of objectives and areas combining technological, industrial, economic, social and cultural aspects. This approach was reinforced by the Key Action concept.


Sixth Framework Programme - The Sixth Framework Programme covered Community activities in the field of research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) for the period 2002 to 2006. The Framework Programme had to serve two main strategic objectives: Strengthening the scientific and technological bases of industry and encourage its international competitiveness while promoting research activities in support of other EU policies.FP6 also provided possibilities and funding for organizations in third countries. It covered those areas where the EU in the medium term intends to become the most competitive and dynamic, knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion. It included:

  • Thematic Areas: Life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health; Information society technologies; Nanotechnologies and nano-sciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices; Aeronautics and space; Food quality and safety; Sustainable development, global change and ecosystems; Citizens and governance in a knowledge-based society.
  • Cross-cutting research activities
  • Strengthening the foundations of ERA
  • Structuring the ERA
  • Nuclear energy

Budget & Time Period of EU Framework Programme (FP1- FP7)


Milestone of EU Research

1952: ECSC treaty; first projects started March 1955
1957: EURATOM treaty; Joint Research Centre set up
1983: ESPRIT programme
1984: First Framework Programme (1984-1987)
1987:“European Single Act” -science becomes a Community responsibility
1987: Second Framework Programme (1987-1991)
1990: Third Framework Programme (1990-1994)
1993: Treaty on European Union; role of RTD in the EU enlarged
1994: Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998)
1998: Fifth Framework Programme (1998-2002)
2000: European Research Area
2002: Sixth Framework Programme (2002-2006)
2005: Proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme (2007-2013)

2007: Seventh Framework Programme