The legislation to establish the Fifth Framework Programme, the specific programmes established under it and the rules for participation in the new programme was adopted by the European Council on 22 December 1998.
"Energy, environment and sustainable development" is the fourth thematic programme of the framework programme's first activity. The first activity covers the research, technological development and demonstration programmes.
Research, technological development and demonstration (RTD) in the fields of environment, energy and sustainable development is essential for the social well-being of Europe's citizens and the implementation of Union policies. This programme will encourage integrated multidisciplinary approaches seeking to solve problems with a European dimension for which scientific and technological developments are needed.
Because research and technological development in the field of environment and energy are related, but distinct areas, the programme is split into two sub-programmes 'Environment and sustainable development' and 'Energy', each with its own budget and programme committee. Exchange of information between the two committees will be ensured as appropriate.
The strategic goal of the programme is to contribute to sustainable development by focusing on key activities crucial for social well-being and economic competitiveness in Europe. Its main objectives are:
- An innovative approach making it possible to address complex societal-driven issues: integrated multidisciplinary and multisectoral activities involving, wherever possible, the principal stakeholders - private-public sector partnerships, and end-users from the business, industrial and policy-making sectors - and concentrating on finding solutions to strategic problems;
- Social objectives. Key societal issues, such as demands for better living conditions, better safety, and better use of scarce resources like water, environmental problems, the cities and cultural heritage. In addition to developing technologies, the socio-economic context will need to be appropriately analyzed and taken into account;
- European added value and subsidiarity. Environmental problems, energy systems, networks and services and the associated environmental impacts, as well as sustainable development issues must be approached in a global context. In this respect, the European level is the most appropriate: most problems and challenges are common to all Member States and most activities to be addressed in the programme are not only European, but also global in scale.
- Economic development and scientific and technological prospects: the promotion of sustainable development will not be possible unless economic objectives relating to technological development, competitiveness and growth are reconciled with societal goals such as quality of life, employment, security, health and a high quality environment.