MEPs ask to be co-guarantor of ERC's integrity

October 12, 2006

Brussels, 11 Oct 2006

The European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee has adopted consultation reports on three of the specific programmes for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7): Ideas, Capacities and Cooperation. 'Ideas' refers to the European Research Council, a new pan-European funding agency for fundamental research. While the Commission originally proposed that members would be appointed by the Commission, following an independent identification procedure, a compromise amendment adopted by the committee states: 'Its members will be selected from among the scientific community by the Scientific Council, ensuring the diversity of the scientists' research fields, following general criteria set by European legislator [...] and appointed by the Commission after a hearing in the European Parliament.'

Another amendment ensures that the Parliament is a joint-guarantor of the ERC's integrity. 'The Commission should not be the sole guarantor of the ERC's integrity. In view of the project's great importance and its considerable financial resources, the Council and Parliament must be consistently involved in its work, possibly by means of annual reports,' reads the ITRE document.

MEPs also state that the members' term of office should be four years, with the possibility of re-election for three years. They also suggest using a rotating system to elect members, so that at each election, one third of the members are newly elected.

A compromise amendment also makes it clear that members of the Scientific Council should not only have the qualification of outstanding scientific excellence, but also long experience of science management.

On the Cooperation programme, the committee adopted amendments designed to specify that certain research fields will receive funding under FP7, including dementia and Parkinson's disease, ageing, ecosystem preservation, global change, hybrid motors for trains, social and welfare systems, and urban research.

For the Capacities programme, amendments adopted by MEPs included the specification that any infrastructure receiving EU funding should provide European added value as well as contribute to industrial competitiveness and other Community policies.

MEPs also sought to ensure that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will not be left out of the Capacities programme, stating: 'Use should be made of national and regional programmes and infrastructures to support R&D [research and development] activities by SMEs in order to carry out the research activities under this programme to the benefit of SMEs. Programmes will not only be more efficient, have greater local presence and be more in line with the specific needs of SMEs, but will also contribute to coordinating and harmonising national policies and support schemes.'

These reports, along with others adopted recently, will be discussed and put to the vote by the Parliament as a whole during plenary week of 13 to 16 November in Strasbourg.

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