Brussels, 07 Aug 2003
The Academia Europaea, an international association of scientists, has published a second contribution to the debate on a European Research Council (ERC), which calls for the creation of a totally new entity supported entirely by Community funding.
The contribution begins by stressing that, in its view: '[W]ithout (as yet) a clear political agreement on a mandate and a clear set of guiding principles, it is too soon to prescribe on systems of governance or operation for a ERC.'
The organisation outlines what it feels these guiding principles should be, the key one being a focus on supporting long term, curiosity driven research with international collaboration as a high priority.
As well as a focus on basic research, other guiding principles proposed in the communication include methods of operation that ensure excellence and transparency, and a clear demarcation between the objectives of the ERC and other Community research programmes.
The Academia Europaea adds that: 'There should be no pressure on a ERC to justify its decisions in terms of applicability or exploitation potential. Nor should any ERC be tainted or burdened by the need to respond to political expediency or short term issues, through the provision of scientific advice for policy or other purposes.'
In terms of funding for such a body, the position paper states that as the ERC should concentrate on supporting basic research, financing would necessarily have to originate from public sector sources. The most effective way of sharing such a financial burden across Europe, it suggests, is by opting for 100 per cent Community funding.
Furthermore, this commitment should not divert resources from present international bodies or Community research programmes, but should represent an allocation of entirely new funds. Such a move, the Academia Europaea argues, would contribute significantly to meeting the Barcelona and Lisbon targets agreed by the EU's Heads of State and Government.
Finally, the position paper considers the various proposals that have been made for the creation of an ERC from existing bodies, and concludes that 'the Academia Europaea strongly favours the creation of a totally new European Research Council body' as existing organisations were established to serve different goals. The contribution finishes by urging EU research ministers to collaborate in order to enable the creation of an independent European Research Council.
To find out more about the Academia Europaea, please consult the following web address: