Funding shortfall 'will not hurt FP7'

August 18, 2006

The European Commission's independent research body has been told that its funding is likely to be frozen, but the head of the Joint Research Centre insists that this will have little impact on its projects or future status.

Roland Schenkel, JRC director-general, said it would instead look to make up the financial shortfall by seeking industry funding.

The JRC's attempts to get a 3 per cent rise above inflation for funding for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) - the European Union's main instrument for funding research and development - have been turned down and instead it received a 3.5 per cent increase.

"We accepted a zero-growth budget," Mr Schenkel said. "There isn't much flexibility there, but we hope to make up income from our competitive work with industry, although we couldn't allow industry funding to rise above 15 per cent as it would make us appear less independent."

One reason for the frozen budget is the creation, under FP7, of a European Research Council to fund the best of basic European science research. Mr Schenkel recognised that there was a need to avoid duplication with the ERC. "Basic research (a role of the ERC) is not a priority for the JRC, but duplication is an important topic in the research community," he said. "We need to look at the work being done in other EU member states and make sure that we do not overlap."

Mr Schenkel anticipated that the JRC's remit would change over the next 15 years. "We need to improve our networking, so that we can give support to European policymakers and individual countries in the way that we advise the Commission," he said.

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