Commission defends itself against FP6 funding criticisms

March 3, 2004

Brussels, 02 Mar 2004

The European Commission has responded to a European Life Scientist Organization (ELSO) petition calling for a 'new and ambitious European science policy' and the restructuring the EU's research funding programme. A spokesperson told CORDIS News that while some criticisms are valid, many of the initiatives called for by ELSO have already been launched.

The ELSO petition, which will be presented to the European institutions in the autumn of 2004 is intended to influence the next Framework Programme, due to begin in 2007. The organisation believes that there are three fundamental flaws with the way the European research is funded, namely excessive bureaucracy, inadequate emphasis on 'basic research' and a lack of funding.

'The European Commission is open to debate and welcomes all input concerning the next Framework Programme said a spokesperson for Philippe Busquin, European Research Commissioner. 'We are talking to all players to fine tune our action. Criticism is legitimate and the Commission agrees that it is necessary to simplify the procedure. However, strict procedures are also necessary as taxpayers' money is involved.'

The spokesperson also pointed out that some of the issues raised by ELSO have already been discussed. Indeed, a new European arrangement characterised by minimum bureaucracy and closely involving the scientific and engineering communities was declared a priority during the symposium on 'Europe's search for excellence in basic research' hosted by the Irish Presidency on 16 February.

Furthermore, the European Commission has proposed to raise the budget for research by 60 per cent by 2013, and talks are currently underway on a European Research Council for basic research. 'The plan is to model it on the American National Institute for Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF),' explained the spokesperson. 'There would be grants instead of consortia, while the Framework Programme would continue as it is as we believe it is possible to have both models.'

Concluding, the spokesperson emphasised that 'at the end of the day, it is the Council that decides.' The Commission is hoping that the conclusions of the February symposium will have an impact on the next Competitiveness Council meeting on 15 March. For read the ELSO petition, please visit: http://ultr23.vub.ac.be/petition/

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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