Brussels, 09 Dec 2005
The European Parliament's rapporteur on the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP), German MEP Jorge Chatzimarkakis, believes there is a good chance that the proposals will be approved at the first opportunity.
During a public hearing on the CIP hosted by the Group of the European People's Party in the European Parliament on 8 December, Mr Chatzimarkakis congratulated the Commission for its proposals, and said that the nine Community programmes being consolidated under the single CIP framework 'fit well together'.
The rapporteur revealed that some amendments to the programme have been put forward by MEPs. 'We've changed the focus to always be on SMEs [small and medium sized enterprises] and innovation, and we've tried to reduce bureaucracy wherever possible,' said Mr Chatzimarkakis.
The biggest challenge in boosting competitiveness and innovation in Europe, he warned, was overcoming the 'knowledge filters' that block the flow of research down the innovation pipeline. 'These cannot just be overcome through the CIP, they must be tackled with the Seventh Framework Programme [FP7] too. That's why I've been cooperating closely with Jerzy Buzek [Parliament rapporteur on FP7].'
Matthias Ruete, Director of the 'coordination for competitiveness' directorate in the Commission's Enterprise and Industry DG, described the CIP as necessary for Europe, though he acknowledged that in monetary terms it is 'the little brother of FP7'.
Several speakers at the public hearing raised questions relating to the programme. Nicholas Vonortas, rapporteur for the panel that carried out a five-year assessment of the EU framework programmes for the Commission, asked why an innovation programme was needed at EU level, given that all Member States have their own national initiatives, and whether there are plans to coordinate the CIP with regional and national programmes.
Professor Vonortas, who is based at the George Washington University in the US, also noted that all of the CIP instruments focus on the supply side of the innovation chain, with little in the proposals to address demand side issues. In terms of the programme's focus on information and communication technologies (ICT) and intelligent energy, Professor Vonortas said that both are important areas where Europe possesses significant strengths. 'But both are complicated fields, and the financial support earmarked under the CIP to address them doesn't look sufficient to me.'
Explaining why he thinks a programme such as the CIP is needed at EU level, Mr Ruete said: 'I could say that we have nine programmes at the moment which are all over-subscribed - that would be the easy answer. But there is also a feeling that support through the research framework programme comes to an end too early, and we need to continue providing funding, that's why we've developed this concept. Also, the networking element is essential in the EU, and the CIP is the only method for having this networking.'
Sir David Cooksey, Chair of the European Venture Capital Association, said that giving grants is not the way to make European SMEs more innovative and competitive. 'It creates companies built on false cost assumptions, so what we need to do is create incentives for investment by companies by focusing on the framework conditions. I support the CIP as it focuses on market disciplines rather than grants,' he concluded.
For further information on the public hearing, please consult the following web address: http:///www.epp-ed.org/Press/peve05/eve03 2_en.asp