Brussels, 19 Nov 2003
The European Parliament has unanimously adopted a report by German MEP Rolf Linkohr calling for the budget of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to be raised to 30 billion euro for the four year period.
Such a move would represent a 70 percent increase compared with the current 17.5 billion euro allocation under FP6. This is necessary, say MEPs, because of the forthcoming enlargement of the EU to 25 or more Member States.
The own initiative report, adopted in Strasbourg on 18 November, was a response to the Commission's recent action plan on raising EU research investment to three per cent of GDP by 2010.
Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin told CORDIS News: 'We welcome this kind of support, as the Commission also wants to see research funding increased in the next Framework Programme. I'm not fully convinced that a level of 30 billion euro is realistic, but we are negotiating for a substantial, if more modest, increase.'
Another decision that MEPs would like to see taken relates to the establishment of a European Research Council (ERC) to support of basic research. Such a body should be created primarily as a source of research funding, rather than advice, cover all scientific disciplines, and follow a bottom up approach based on purely scientific criteria, according to the report.
Returning their attention to the Research Framework Programme, and specifically the new instruments, MEPs accepted the proposal in the report that: '[T]he ideas of 'networks of excellence' and 'integrated projects' [should] be geared more closely to the guiding notion of the European Research Area [ERA].'
In response, the Commission's spokesperson said: 'A mid term review of [the new instruments] is ongoing. We will identify whether any fine tuning is required in order to make them more efficient tools [...] in the context of the Growth Initiative and the ERA.'
Lastly, the Parliament delivered a strong message to the Council and Member States, accusing the former of failing to follow up words with deeds, and the later of collectively making little or no effort to increase research expenditure, and in some cases even reducing it.
Mr Busquin's spokesperson said that the Commission would take the 'valuable' report into due account, and that it would feed into the current debates on EU research in the context of the ERA, the three per cent target, and the new European Constitution. To read Mr Linkohr's report, please: click here