Brussels, 21 March 2002
The publication of the Expressions of Interest (EoI) by the European Commission on 20 March will help it set an agenda for research themes to be covered in the next Framework programme (FP6) and help submitters prepare for the calls, the Commission has said.
The EoI are a means of gathering information on some of the areas the research community is focusing on, as well as gauging the level of activity in specific fields. There will be no formal evaluation of the EoI, but the Commission will analyse those that are submitted and will highlight them on the Internet by July 2002. However, submitters may opt to keep the information confidential.
While there will be no individual feedback, no budget and no specific competitive advantages in submitting an EoI (as submission is neither a prerequisite for participating in FP6 nor will submission improve the chances of the subject appearing in an early call), the Commission feels that this will provide a good opportunity to prepare for participation in FP6 calls.
Submission of an EoI would mean having to join together with other members of the research community to form the kind of consortium that would fit in with the new instruments, such as the networks of excellence or integrated projects.
At an event on 20 March organised by the Commission to explain the functioning of the Framework programme in relation to its seventh priority - citizens and governance in a knowledge-based economy - discussion turned to how the EoI will work. Concern was expressed that the option of confidentiality could lead to some of the non-confidential submitters being placed at a disadvantage. Andrew Sors of the Commission explained that the idea of allowing confidentiality was so as not to discourage any prospective group from taking part.
Asked what the Commission would use for gaining feedback from the research community if there was a low level of EoI submissions, Dr Peter Fisch of the Commission said that there were many other sources, such as programme committees, workshops and dialogue exercises. 'If we don't get much feedback, we will not be left empty handed,' he said. But he added that to miss out on this opportunity may be to miss out on a useful way of preparing for the real thing. 'To really have the full European dimension, you need partners from all over Europe and this invitation may be one way of doing this.'
Participants at the event raised concerns about the new instruments to be used in FP6, which were addressed by representatives of the Commission. Colette Renier, in response to a point raised about the possibility of networks of excellence becoming 'closed shops', responded that this concern is nothing new. 'Of course networks of excellence could operate between friends, but this is not new and I feel that this could even be reduced. The network of the excellence also looks at the excellence of the partnership,' she said.
In response to concerns that the position of smaller countries and organisations could be threatened by the new instruments, Mr Sors gave reassurance. 'My personal feeling is that it will be easier for smaller entities to participate in larger networks than before.'
For more information on the EoI, please consult the following web address: http://www.cordis.lu/fp6/eoi-instruments