Brussels, 03 Nov 2004
Germany's Leibniz Association, one of the largest research institutes in the country, has expressed its broad support for the Commission's stated objectives for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), while also highlighting a number of improvements that it feels could be made to the current programme.
In its position paper, the association strongly welcomes the focus on research excellence outlined in the Commission's proposals for FP7 and future EU research policies in general, adding that, in principle, all actions that contribute to better networking within the European Research Area will have its support.
However, the Leibniz Association also identifies a 'considerable unused potential' for EU funded research in the social sciences, humanities and environmental sciences, which it feels should be exploited to advance European cohesion and competitiveness.
Moving to an appraisal of the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) and the changes that are required for FP7, the association begins by giving its support to the conclusions of the Marimon report on the new instruments introduced under FP6. Specifically, Leibniz institutes believe that Integrated Projects (IPs) and Networks of Excellence (NoEs) should be maintained under FP7, but argue that 'corrections to secure a solid balance between the new and old instruments are required immediately.'
The position paper alleges that the concentration of resources around the new instruments has proved highly problematic for the smaller institutes within the Leibniz Association. NoEs in particular should be re-evaluated in order to assess whether the Commission's aim of creating 'durable integration' is realistic following the end of EU funding, it continues.
When deciding on the thematic priorities for FP7, the association believes that it is important that they reflect the general policies of the EU. Subsequently, it identifies areas where either clarification or extension of the programme is necessary, for example in the areas of sustainable development, social integration, global change and economic science.
On an administrative level, the Leibniz Association starts by calling for significant simplification in the negotiation process for consortium contracts. With regards to the creation of a European Research Council (ERC), the association argues that its experience shows that the distinction between basic and applied research is 'obsolete', and urges the Commission not to limit the topics covered by such an organisation. For this reason, it says, the association lends its support to the ERC guidelines produced by the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCS).
The Leibniz Association concludes its position paper by endorsing the Commission's proposals on the EU's financial perspectives, stating: 'In order to successfully realise the objectives of the Commission's research policies and to allow the Lisbon strategy to become reality, we consider a continuous increase of the investments for European research support unavoidable.'
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