UK Department of Trade & Industry: Future shape of European scientific research

December 1, 2004

London, 30 November 2004

The UK today unveiled a blueprint making clear how EU funding for scientific research could help boost business competitiveness, increase Europe's global share of world-class scientific research and improve EU policy making.

The UK's paper, published by the Department of Trade and Industry, is a bold, clear vision of how a streamlined, simplified and more transparent scheme could deliver for British scientists and British business. Today's publication comes ahead of negotiations with Member States and the Commission to decide how the next (7th) EU Research and Development Framework Programme will operate.

Announcing the publication, Science Minister Lord Sainsbury said: "This is a bold paper reflecting the needs of British scientists and industry. We want this 7th Framework Programme to deliver significant results for the benefit of all. That's why the UK will argue strongly for three things.

"Firstly, world leading basic research driven by scientific excellence, and delivered by our European Research Council, to secure Europe's place as a powerhouse of scientific study.

"Secondly, applied research driven by the needs of industry for more innovative products and services that will fuel economic competitiveness

"Thirdly, applied research driven by the needs of policy makers and disseminated effectively across the EU. We must avoid costly mistakes when policy solutions have been based on no science or bad science."

Research commissioned by the DTI and the responses to its consultation argued for major changes in the focus of the Framework Programme. The UK Government response to the public consultation is also published today.

Respondents to the consultation also argued for fundamental improvements in the administration of the Framework Programmes, including a radical reduction of the bureaucratic burden, something the UK is already and will continue to argue strongly for.

Lord Sainsbury added: "There have been many successes in previous years under earlier Programmes but the system now needs a thorough overhaul. It is too bound up in red tape and does not provide applicants with sufficient support, guidance or feedback. The UK government wants access to funding across Europe to be streamlined and simplified.

"We are also making a clear case for EU funding to cover the full economic costs of research - the costs of facilities and salaries - rather than just fund the scientists themselves."

Key features of the UK paper include:

The key to success in the next Framework Programme (FP7) is focusing on the areas that really matter - basic research, industrial research and research in support of policy, and making clear the different aims and objectives of these areas.

The bulk of FP7 funding should focus on industrial competitiveness where the long-term research agenda should clearly reflect the needs of the industrial users.

UK in favour of establishing a European Research Council - independent of the Commission - to be responsible for allocating grants for excellent basic research

On the budget, research should be given a higher priority within the overall budget cap of 1% of gross national income. But we want to see more evidence from the Commission of the value that spending European money can add and that they could deliver a new programme effectively.

Need for a major continuing effort to further streamline the Framework Programme and embed a new delivery culture, in cooperation with all stakeholders

A continued focus on making Europe more attractive to the best researchers by enabling researcher mobility and the transfer of knowledge for the benefit of both academia and business

Safeguarding money coming into scientific institutions by making the case for EU funding to cover the cost of running and equipping laboratories by funding the full economic costs of research, and not just scientists' salaries and project costs

Enabling opportunities for co-operation internationally to address global problems such as climate change.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The EU Framework Programme provides funding for collaborative R&D projects, researcher mobility and the development of research infrastructure. It represents the third largest item in the EU budget and the last four-year Programme supported approximately 5,000 UK participants. The Seventh Framework Programme will cover the period 2006-2010.

2. The Commission issued a Communication on the future of European research policy in June 2004 which set out its ideas for FP7. This will be followed by a formal proposal, expected in the first half of 2005. The UK position paper aims to influence the policy debate. The Commission proposals will be negotiated under the UK Presidency.

3. The European Commission is proposing a budget for FP7 which could be in excess of 35bn euros over four years, almost double that of the current programme. The overall budget envelope will be resolved as part of the ongoing negotiations on future financing.

4. The paper calls for FP7 to have a simplified structure that focuses more clearly on desired outcomes to support scientific development, industrial competitiveness and wider policy aims. It also proposes ways of ensuring that delivery is more user-friendly for industry and scientists. Three key funding streams are proposed: basic research, driven by scientific excellence; applied research based closely on industry's needs; and research in support of policy based on stronger input from policymakers and key decision makers. The paper also addresses cross-cutting support in areas such as human resources, research infrastructure, dissemination of knowledge and research co-operation beyond the EU.

5. The DTI launched a wide-ranging UK public Consultation exercise in April 2004, including a one-day conference in June that brought together some 180 delegates from stakeholder organisations, across academic, business and other sectors. The written consultation concluded on 26 July and received over 200 responses. The UK position paper has been developed on the basis of this evidence-gathering work and a Government response to the consultation, addressing the issues raised by consultees is published alongside the UK paper.

6. Both documents are published on the DTI's website: http:///www.ost.gov.uk/ostinternational/f p7/

linkname:Department of Trade and Industry http:///www.dti.gov.uk
News release No. P/2004/444
Item source: http:///www.gnn.gov.uk/environment/detail .asp?ReleaseID=137316&NewsAreaID=2&Navig atedFromDepartment=False

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