Brussels, 04 Mar 2005
REPORT on Science and technology- Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research
Having looked carefully into the Commission's Communication which is the subject of this report, the rapporteur can only agree on the broad guidelines presented therein. She would like however to make the following remarks:
1. "Europe deserves better research". Making Europe more competitive requires appropriate financial means. The ERA will be possible if an increasing proportion of funding for research can be managed at European level. The FP6 budget represents only 5.4 % of the total public research spending in Europe. The same determination that was manifested in the pursuit of the Single Market and the European Monetary Union should now be applied to building the ERA.
Genuine competition at European level can be impaired by national financing when the latter comes to the rescue of low-quality projects that are not competitive enough to secure EU funding. There should be sufficient coupling at European and national level to ensure a uniform quality of funded projects.
2. Continuity. FP7 has to be seen as a continuation of FP6. The rapporteur believes the latter was in itself a qualitative leap forward from the past, in that it created a new dynamic for research, and above all defined a means of intervention consistent with the objective of establishing an ERA.
At the same time the rapporteur is mindful of the improvements suggested in the Marimon report. The report namely endorses the FP6 instruments and underlines the necessity of continuity in the planning of research programmes, but proposes a series of correcting measures, which should make the instruments more flexible and easier to use.
3. Duration of the FPs. If one recognises the necessity of continuity, it logically follows that FP programming should be lengthened. Suggestions have been made for programming FPs over longer periods of time (e.g. the same as those of the financial perspectives) coupled with periodic readjustments of objectives in the sense of a rolling programme. This is seen as a means of increasing dependability in the planning stages, keeping track of novel technological developments and making possible better coordination with other sources of funding.
4. Financial Perspectives. The absurdity of trying to plan for a new FP in total ignorance of the amount of funding available for it is evident to all. Making Europe more competitive clearly requires more financial means for research. Taking into account the new EU competences in the field of research and the enlargement to 25 and soon more Member States, the FP budget should be at least doubled. Member States should regard this as a minimum not be questioned during the negotiations on the financial perspectives.
5. European Research Council. Basic research is crucial for successful innovation. The rapporteur welcomes the Commission's proposal to establish a European Research Council (ERC). Independently of the precise name to be given to this entity (Council / Foundation / Agency), the proposal to create it responds to a demand expressed with increasing intensity by the European scientific community for the creation of a European mechanism to support basic research. A long discussion on this subject has been held at European level over the past two years, as highlighted by the Mayor and Kok reports.