LONDON It sounds vaguely wonderful. But what does it mean for us? That's the natural reaction of life scientists in Europe to the European Commission's proposed new € 17.5 billion 'Sixth Framework Programme', which will run from 2003 to 2006, to judge by an editorial in the European Life Scientist Organization's ELSO Gazette.

"The language of the document, like most that emerge from the European Commission (EC), is so vague and so difficult to understand… that it reads like a translation of a German or French philosophy text," says ELSO. "Philosophers make a living and a lifetime's work out of interpreting Heidegger or Foucault. This is not what researchers should be doing."

So here's our own rough guide to the philosophy.

The question the EC is really trying to answer, with some energy, is how a massive multinational, multilingual bureaucracy, with a relatively small budget, and an unwieldy political...

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