Europe's universities are seeking a simplified process for applications for research funding under the new Framework Seven research programme.
The European Universities Association, in response to a European Commission consultation document on guidelines for future policy to support research, said the current single-stage evaluation process meant that applicants must spend a disproportionate amount of effort in preparing applications.
"We support demands for a two-stage process but recognise the need also to ensure that such a process does not increase the time lag between submission of applications and final decisions," it said.
The EUA welcomed the Commission's commitment to a huge increase in funding for FP7 as recognition of the link between the programme and the wider Bologna Process. But it said that universities, as research institutions widely distributed across the EU, are "natural partners" in the strategic policy debate over future EU support for research. "Future research policy and practice should take account of this unique role and thus of the potential added value brought by the universities to the European research effort in a mid to long-term perspective," it said But the emphasis on the involvement of individual researchers and research teams should shift to universities as institutions, the EUA said. While increasing support should go to the very best researchers at European universities, it was also important that all universities should be helped to improve their research performance, the EUA added.