National research systems are organised around three key functions:
• Orientation: definition of the objectives to be reached by the research system (areas in which research projects should be conducted or challenges that should be addressed) and the adoption of the appropriate budgets. This function is performed at the political level by the governments and their respective ministers.
• Programming: translation of these high-level objectives into research programmes including the definition of scientific priorities and of the financial modalities (recurrent or competitive funding for example). This function is performed by the national ministries and the research funding organisations (research councils).
• Execution: conduct of the research projects by the researchers in the research performing organisations (research centres, universities, private companies).
One key objective of the establishment and implementation of an EU policy in research is to create a European system by promoting the coordination of the national activities related to each of the three key functions. Public-public partnerships (P2Ps) in research at EU level were developed to promote this coordination.