Any cuts to doubled FP7 budget go against Lisbon Strategy, argues Buzek report

January 17, 2006

Brussels, 16 Jan 2006

The first draft of the report on the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) by the European Parliament's committee on industry, research and energy (ITRE) claims that any reduction to the proposed doubling of the programme budget runs contrary to the Lisbon strategy and the prior declarations of EU leaders.

The report, drawn up by the ITRE committee's rapporteur on FP7 and former Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, represents a second clear rejection by the European Parliament, albeit an indirect one, of the EU budget compromise reached by the Council in December 2005. On 12 January, the Parliament's Budgets Committee rejected the Council agreement on the Financial Perspectives 2007 to 2013, saying that it did not guarantee an EU budget to provide prosperity, competitiveness and cohesion.

'[T]he European Parliament agreed with the Commission [that ...] the budget of the Seventh Framework Programme must be doubled,' states Mr Buzek's report. 'Any cuts in FP7 budget are against the Lisbon strategy and in disagreement with all the declarations of European Union leaders. [...O]nly a critical mass of financing can lead to final success.'

Any reduction in the proposed budget for FP7 puts at risk the success of the European Research Centre (ERC), undermines the effort to raise EU investment in research to three per cent of GDP, and threatens the European research effort in areas where public support is particularly necessary. 'We cannot imagine how possible budgetary cuts could affect such sensitive areas as for instance health [...], energy, [...] or environment,' warns the ITRE committee report.

Therefore, a clear vision and strong leadership are required to secure an adequate budget for FP7, according to the report, and the ITRE committee expects both of these elements to be in evidence in future European Council meetings.

Leaving behind concerns over the programme's budget, and in spite of its broad support for the Commission's original proposal, the ITRE committee report proposes 116 amendments to the original text. One key change relates to the proposed operation of the ERC, which goes beyond the 'high degree of autonomy' proposed by the Commission by saying that it should be established as a legally independent structure under Article 171 of the Treaty.

The draft Parliament report is also concerned that the results of research funded by the framework programme are converted into commercial products, and therefore calls for adequate coordination between FP7 and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). 'It is also worthwhile to analyze whether such a structure as a European Institute of Technology (EIT) could also contribute to the creation of synergy between these two programmes,' it adds.

In a move that appears designed to encourage the closer integration of researchers from the newer Member States into the framework programme, the report argues that Europe should take advantage of disparities in the cost of human resources and fund excellent research at a lower cost. 'Although scientific excellence remains the leading evaluation criterion for actions [...], cost-efficiency considerations will be taken into account where possible,' reads the proposed amendment.

To address the weakness of technology transfer activities in Europe identified in various studies, the ITRE committee proposes the establishment of a 'Technology Transfer Facility' implemented under FP7 and operated by the European Investment Fund (EIF). The facility would fund transfer activities from universities, research centres and other organisations, and would represent another useful link between the activities of FP7 and the CIP.

Finally, the report considers that as there are 'not many evident links between space and security' they should be considered as distinct themes, and it also recommends extending the role of Networks of Excellence (NoE) to include more networking and integration with national research programmes and national technology platforms.

Mr Buzek presented his report to members of the ITRE committee for the first time in Strasbourg on 16 January. The committee will vote on the text before it gets its first reading by all MEPs at a plenary session of Parliament, which is currently expected to be on 14 March.

To download the report and accompanying documents

Earlier related items:

Amendments 12-42 for the Draft report by Britta Thomsen on the Proposed Decision concerning the seventh framework programme (link)
     12 January 2006

Amendments 12-36 for the Draft Opinion by Thijs Berman on the Seventh framework programme (link)
     12 January 2006

Draft Opinion on the Proposed Decision concerning the seventh framework programme (link)
     12 January 2006

Draft Report on a Proposed Decision concerning the seventh framework programme (2007 to 2013)(link)
     10 January 2006

Draft Report on the proposed Council decision concerning the seventh framework programme of Euratom for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011) -- Rapporteur: Jerzy Buzek (link)
     10 January 2006

Amendments 21- for the Draft Opinion by Satu Hassi on a Proposed Council decision concerning the seventh framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for nuclear research and training activities (2007 to 2011) (link)
     9 January 2006

Amendments 60-166 for the Draft Opinion by Satu Hassi Proposal for a decision concerning the seventh framework programme (link)
     3 January 2006

Proposed Regulation laying down the rules for participation in 7th Framework Programme actions (link)
     3 January 2006

Partial general approach to FP7 for research, technological development and demonstration activities, and for nuclear research (link)
     20 December 2005

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2005
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