The European Science Foundation is an association of 62 major national funding agencies devoted to scientific research in 21 countries. The ESF assists its member organizations in two main ways: by bringing scientists together in its scientific programmes; and through the joint study of issues of strategic importance in European science policy.

The plan splits the foundation's activities into eight separate themes: the solid Earth; environmental processes; resources and sustainability; atoms, molecules and complex physical systems; the brain and cognitive sciences; genomes and genome products; health issues; culture and the European identity.

Physics research will be covered by the theme on atoms, molecules and complex physical systems. This will include research into: matter at extreme scales and conditions; the study and creation of novel materials and molecules; nonlinear dynamic systems; and advanced computing methods.

The report also discusses how the foundation could improve its network of workshops, programmes and conferences, and predicts the ESF budget over the next four years. During this time the foundation expects that its budget will only grow by 1 per cent as nearly all of the foundation's member organizations are under tight financial constraints.

Sir Dai Rees, ESF president, and Peter Fricker, secretary general, said in a joint statement that they hoped that the report will help encourage science within Europe. "The ESF's 'science-driven' actions are complementary to those of other agencies, such as the European Commission, which primarily focus on the benefits to be obtained from science, " they said. "The ESF has an important role to play in spearheading scientific advances and in providing scientific strengths upon which other agencies' actions can build."