Brussels, 03 Oct 2002
NOTE TO CREST DELEGATIONS
Subject: DRAFT SUMMARY CONCLUSIONS OF THE 285th MEETING OF THE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH COMMITTEE (CREST) HELD IN AALBORG, DENMARK, ON 12 AND 13 SEPTEMBER 2002
The Committee was also informed about developments concerning the reform of COST, which is making substantial progress with a view to drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding between COST and the European Science Foundation (ESF). Reorganisation of COST will continue with the definition of targets and milestones for the systematic development of COST over the coming years.
CREST 1207/02 ThB/tm 3 DG C III EN
3.2 INFORMATION FROM THE COMMISSION
Ms. DE LA TORRE (Commission services) informed the Committee about the current work in progress on the implementation of the specific programmes, the adoption, by the Commission, of the proposal based on Art.169 concerning the Clinical Trials Platform to combat poverty-related infectious diseases, and of the Communication "More Research for Europe - Towards 3% of GDP". Another communication on the role of universities in the knowledge society is to be adopted later this year.
The Advisory Groups of the Commission for implementation of FP 6, as well as the Programme Committees, are currently being set up.
Mr. MILES (Commission services) informed the Committee on the results of the "Expressions of Interest" (EoI) exercise. There were more than 11,700 wellfounded EoI to deal with, and between 15% to 20% of project proposals submitted could be considered to be of excellent quality and fully meet the requirements of EC programmes. All areas of the RTD community were well represented. At the same time, it became apparent that there is still a certain lack of understanding of the working of the new instruments. This problem will be addressed by increasing information on these matters, in particular through the National Contact Points.
A briefing note on EoI was distributed to delegations, and the complete results will be published on CORDIS. Participants will not receive individual feedback on their expressions of interest, as the exercise was not intended to be a pre-check on the proposals.
6. OPENING UP OF NATIONAL RTD PROGRAMMES
Ms. DE LA TORRE (Commission services) gave a short presentation of the progress achieved, on the basis of the written contributions sent in so far by delegations. It was recalled that CREST, as a first step, had agreed to consolidate efforts in the five original priority sectors identified by CREST.
The Commission reiterated its readiness to support - for a limited number of areas - one "kick- off" meeting to be organised by the lead country or countries, as long as there was a minimum of five interested Member States or Associated States. This support will cover the travel costs for one representative per country, and one invited speaker. Lead countries were invited to organise "kick-off"-events before the end of the year, as otherwise the funds reserved by the Commission to support these activities would be lost.
DG C III EN The following latest developments were reported:
* For marine sciences (lead: Ireland), the kick-off-meeting will be organised on 17 September.
* Italy agreed to take over the lead in the field of chemistry1. The Finnish delegation distributed a document informing about CERC3 (the Chairpersons and Directors of European Research Councils' Chemistry Committees).
* Spain has agreed to take the lead on complexity and complex systems1.
* Belgium volunteered to share the lead responsibility with the Netherlands on plant genomics.
* The Netherlands will lead in the field of astrophysics.
The Committee agreed that the suitable profile for participants in meetings would be that of "RTD money allocators", not "RTD money seekers"; participants would not be limited to public RTD funding agencies and programme managers, but could also include private funding agencies, e.g. foundations.
7. EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS UNDER FP 6
Mr. STROUD (Commission services) gave a presentation to the Committee outlining the new approach of the Commission to ensure high-quality evaluation of proposals under FP 6. Selection criteria are now to be found in the work programme, rather than in a specific evaluation manual. Evaluators will be chosen from three sources: open calls, lists of candidates proposed by Member States' research organisations and governments, and, subsidiarily, by direct nominations by the Commission. An important innovation will be the fact that anonymity of evaluation will no longer be the rule. This opens up the possibility to hold interviews with promising proposers in order to clarify any remaining questions before the selection of the proposal is made.
Delegations gave general support to the Commission strategy but raised the following questions:
* How to safeguard confidentiality during remote evaluation: the Commission agreed that this was a sensitive issue, and remote evaluation would therefore not be used in all parts of the Framework Programme. Severe penalties for breach of confidentiality would also act as a safeguard;
* How to reconcile the necessary ethical review with the required respect for subsidiarity: the Commission confirmed that subsidiarity would be duly respected. Ethically sensitive, but scientifically excellent projects would go through an ethical review procedure by an ethical panel, with a specific procedure for critical cases;
* The scope of the two-stage selection procedure (which several delegations wished to be as widely applied as possible): the Commission stated that the two-stage procedure would be used primarily for the new instruments. For practical reasons, it was not yet certain that a two-stage procedure could be used for first calls;
* The relative weight of the selection criteria: the Commission responded that, as under previous framework programmes, scientific excellence would remain the most important criterion.
* Anonymity or non-anonymity of evaluation: the Commission would ensure that the names of evaluators would not be made available too soon, in order to safeguard complete objectivity.
8. REGIONAL DIMENSION OF ERA
Mr. CORPAKIS (Commission services) informed the Committee of the Commission's efforts to ensure an active role for the regions in the implementation of the European Research Area, which goes far beyond mere fund-absorption. The opinion delivered by the Committee of the Regions in May 2002 was a very encouraging political response. Some European regions spend almost 4% of GDP on research activities.
Delegations gave unanimous support for strengthening the role of the regions in the implementation of ERA and stressed the importance of best practice, statistics, the role of cross-border regional co-operation, the function of innovation relay centres (IRCs) and the importance of the Regional Fund as an instrument for supporting research and innovation activities.