Double funding scheme planned

November 16, 2001

Research in poor EU regions could receive a boost, Keith Nuthall reports.

Regional funding from the European Union that is designed to boost the economy of Europe's poorest regions could be funnelled into research projects already attracting money from the EU's Framework programmes if proposals released by Brussels gain support.

The coordination of Europe's regional and research policies has been suggested in a strategy paper released by EU research commissioner Philippe Busquin and regional policy commissioner Michel Barnier. The paper suggests that money from the EU's Objective One development budgets could help to fund studies also receiving Framework funding.

In the United Kingdom, this would affect Merseyside, South Yorkshire, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Northern Ireland, Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, and West Wales and the Valleys. The paper says that such double-funded research projects should involve partners from richer areas. It adds: "This should help to promote synergies between advanced regions and those belonging to the Objective-One category."

Another suggestion is that money be made available to help researchers who grew up in poor regions, enabling them to bring a project to their home communities. These "reintegration grants" would be earmarked for researchers from those Eastern European countries that are on the verge of joining the EU, the paper says.

The commissioners suggest that a special initiative could be set up aimed at funding research projects in "ultra-peripheral regions", namely Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana, Reunion, the Canary Islands, the Azores and Madeira.

Busquin writes: "Our primary objective is to facilitate the development of research and innovation in the regions and to ensure efficient networking between them."

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