Brussels, 28 Sep 2005
The Commission has responded positively to a five year assessment of its research programmes, agreeing with the identification of four main challenges.
The expert panel's report was published in early 2004. The report supported the EU's research framework programmes, concluding that they play an important role in developing Europe's knowledge base and should receive substantially increased funding in the future.
Four major challenges were identified: attracting and rewarding the best talent; creating a high-potential environment for business and industrial research and development; mobilising resources for innovation and sustainable growth; and building trust in science and technology. The Commission's response states its full agreement with these priorities.
The Commission's communication also states that it 'broadly agrees with the recommendations put forward in order to improve the relevance and quality of research initiatives and programmes at present and in the future'.
The panel's recommendations included enhancing the industrial orientation of the programme by making it more relevant to industry and by attracting the participation of more high-tech small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
At an operational level, the panel felt that efforts to streamline and simplify the administration of the programme should be vigorously pursued, and that the selection of instruments should be more flexible. 'It should be the research agenda that dictates the choice of instrument, and not the other way round,' stressed Erkki Ormala, chair of the panel and Nokia's vice president for technology policy, when he presented the original report.
The panel also offered a number of recommendations for the future orientation of EU research policy. The construction of a European Research Area (ERA) must continue, it argued, with an increase in coherence between EU and national science policy. The EU's framework programmes for research must also be used to accelerate the process of integrating the Union's most recently joined Member States, said the assessment.
The Commission states that its proposals for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) take full account of the recommendations, and pledges that they will also be kept in mind during the preparation of the legal aspects of the programme.
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