Brussels, 5 July 2006
OPINION of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in actions under the Seventh Framework Programme and for the dissemination of research results (2007-2013) COM(2005) 705 final - 2005/07 (COD) _____________
Full text of Opinion in MS Word file on ESC website
The Commission proposal concerns the conditions, rules and procedures according to which undertakings, universities, research centres and other legal persons receive support from the Seventh R&D Framework Programme.
The Committee welcomes the majority of the proposed regulations and views them as improvements with the potential to bring about a considerable simplification of the administrative procedures. In that connection, the Committee recommends that there also be greater standardisation and more consistent application as regards the Commission's internal implementing rules, which are still pending (in the applicable criteria, for example).
However, since the Commission's internal implementing rules are still pending, some of the specific outcomes of the proposed regulations cannot yet be assessed. In such cases (e.g. reimbursement of additional costs), the Committee recommends retaining the existing rules at least for the time being, so that grant recipients do not lose out.
The Committee welcomes the planned new support ceilings for grant recipients and their respective areas of activity. In particular, it also welcomes the fact that this will lead to improvements in support for SMEs.
The Committee recommends the equal treatment of all research institutes that receive their core funding from the State, irrespective of their legal status.
The Committee recommends that in the future parties to contracts be given greater freedom in the contractual arrangements, but also in the choice of instruments. This concerns in particular access rights to foreground and/or background owned by one of the parties. Royalty-free access rights should be offered here as an option, but not unconditionally - as has been proposed for certain cases.