The European Commission expects a draft paper on its Seventh Framework Programme of research grants to suggest more than doubling the current budget.
The paper, due in the autumn with formal proposals early next year, is set to call for fi40 billion (£ billion) to be spent from January 2007 to December 2010.
The European Parliament and Council of Ministers would have about 22 months to approve the expanded scheme formally. Commission research spokesman Fabio Fabbi said that there would also be proposals to add two new research areas: space and security technologies. "This is a big challenge and will require lots of work," he warned.
Another change being discussed is decentralising framework programme management, with an expert report making suggestions in Brussels as early as July aimed at slashing the red tape hindering grant applications.
Sometimes "the funding received is not worth the time and money spent submitting the proposals", Mr Fabbi said.
Currently, about 85 per cent of applications fail.