Brussels, 12 Jan 2006
In three separate papers on the proposed European Research Council (ERC), simplification investing in knowledge, the Czech Academy of Sciences lays out how it sees European research from 2007 onwards.
Starting with the ERC, the Academy has many positive things to say about the establishment of such a body, but proposes an alternative structure for the ERC to that put forward by the Commission.
The Commission has proposed that the ERC comprises a Scientific Council (now established) and an executive agency, and that the Commission has a control and communication role between these two bodies. The Czech Academy favours instead a structure consisting of a Governing Board answerable to a Board of Trustees, as proposed by organisations such as the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB) and EUROHORCS.
Under the Commission's proposal, according to the Czech paper, even if the Commission wanted to give the Scientific Council more influence over the executive agency, this would not be allowed under regulations restricting the autonomy of a Governing Board. Instead, the Academy suggests establishing the ERC under Article 171 of the Treaty, as proposed by MEP Pia Locatelli in 2005.
The Czech Academy also wishes to see the ERC's funding instruments becoming more flexible over time. The position paper welcomes the fact that the ERC, when established, will fund only on the basis of scientific excellence, but calls for the development of further instruments later on, as well as the freedom that allows such flexibility.
Addressing simplification the Czech Academy calls for a more streamlined proposal submission procedure, including a 'preliminary check' of every application and the extension of the two-stage submission procedure.
The paper does however express a concern that the simplified forms of grants proposed by the Commission may not provide sufficient funding for some projects, particularly in the Czech Republic, where value added tax (VAT) paid on scientific commodities cannot be reimbursed.
The final paper from the Czech Academy of Sciences published on the CORDIS 'Towards FP7' service responds to a document by the All European Academies (ALLEA) on investing in knowledge in Europe. The Czech paper welcomes many of the points put forward by ALLEA, including those on supporting interdisciplinary research, support for large-scale infrastructures, the setting of a target date for the resolution of the European Community patent issue, and more specific definitions of Integrated Projects and Networks of Excellence.
In addition, the Czech Academy calls for the strengthening of international cooperation in research through the simplification of legislation and the removal of barriers restricting the mobility of scientists from non-EU countries. It would also be helpful to open up the Marie Curie scheme for researcher mobility to non-EU applicants, states the paper.
The paper finishes with a call for further synergy between competitiveness and convergence policies. The Czech Academy would like to see, for example instruments such as the Structural Funds used in combination with the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).