Brussels, 03 Jan 2006
Proposal for a
REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in actions under the Seventh Framework Programme and for the dissemination of research results (2007-2013)
1. CONTEXT OF THE PROPOSAL
The Commission's proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), adopted on 6 April 2005, was accompanied by a Commission Staff working document "Simplification in the 7th Framework Programme" setting out 10 main measures to be implemented, and highlighting the importance of simplification as a "critical success factor".
The Commission's proposal for the Rules for Participation for the Seventh Framework Programme provides the vehicle for implementing many aspects of that simplification and to build upon principles established in FP6.
2. LEGAL BASIS
This proposal for a Regulation of the European Council and Parliament is based on Article 167 of Chapter XVIII of the European Community Treaty that foresees the adoption of rules for participation of undertakings, research centres and universities and rules for the dissemination of results to implement the Community multi-annual framework programme for research. These rules define the rights and obligations of legal entities wishing to take part in the framework programme and establish the principles for the use and dissemination of their work resulting from that participation. The Seventh Framework Programme is implemented in accordance with the provisions established by the Financial Regulation and its implementing rules, and the state aid rules, in particular the rules on state aid for research and development.
3. PRIOR CONSULTATION
Stakeholders, Member States and Associated states have been consulted on the possible changes to the FP7 Rules for Participation in seminars and via a consultation website. Further the Sounding Board of smaller actors has been consulted on the proposals in order to ensure that the changes will not create disadvantages for such participants.
The current proposal contains four chapters: introductory provisions (subject matter, definitions and confidentiality ), participation in indirect actions (minimum conditions to participate, procedural aspects, including minimum numbers of participants, their place of establishment, proposal submission and evaluation, implementation and grant agreements, monitoring of projects and programmes, Community financial contribution: eligibility for funding and forms of grants, reimbursement rates, payment, distribution, recovery and guarantees), the European Investment Bank, and rules for dissemination and use and access rights (ownership, protection, publication, dissemination and use, and access rights to background and foreground).
The minimum number of participants and conditions of place of establishment of the participants is established according to the type of action. Legal entities established in Associated countries may participate on the same basis as those established in Member States.
The Rules identify the procedures for issuing calls for proposals and the exceptions to calls for proposals, for submission, evaluation, selection and award of procedures. In addition, they establish the procedures for the appointment of external experts. Further detailed internal rules governing the procedures for submission, evaluation, selection and award of proposals are to be established by the Commission and include provisions relating to the appointment of independent experts.
Those rules will include special provisions for two-stage submission procedures (which is to be used to a greater extent where applicable, for example where high over-subscription is expected, for very large projects and in order to limit costs of preparing proposals that may never be funded, etc.) and for two-step evaluation (with single submission). The evaluation process developed over previous framework programmes and reflected in these internal rules will continue without substantial changes. Greater use will be made of remote evaluation where possible and continued improvements are being made to briefings of evaluators. The use of hearings will be rationalised. The evaluation criteria are now in the Specific Programmes rather than in the Rules and can be developed further in the work programmes (and calls for proposals).
Although not specified in the Rules it is proposed that full electronic submission will be the rule in FP7, as it has been well tested and used in FP6. Also the use of pre-filled forms/pre- registration using data from a central source and changes to the content and format of proposals should permit successful proposals to begin earlier. A single registration system comprising a common database for all Commission services should help significantly.
In order to ensure consistent assessment of the financial viability of the participants and related financial procedures, the Commission will adopt and publish internal rules for their application.
A model grant agreement will be established by the Commission that will establish the rights and obligations of participants vis-à-vis the Community and each other. The autonomy and flexibility of the consortium, in particular with respect to changes in its composition that were established in FP6 will be continued. The grant agreement will come into force upon signature by the coordinator and Commission authorising officer, as was the case in FP6. All participants must accede to the grant agreement in order to benefit from their rights and obligations under the project.
Participants will be required to conclude consortium agreements, except where exempted by the call for proposals, as they were in FP6. However, many of the new provisions relating to intellectual property should make these easier to establish and to adapt as necessary.
The Commission will monitor all indirect actions financed by the Community as well as the Seventh Framework Programme and its Specific Programmes, as and when necessary with the assistance of external experts.
The participants that are eligible for Community funding are identified in the subsection on Community financial contribution that also covers forms of grants, reimbursement rates, payment, distribution, recovery and guarantees.