Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has proposed a plan to simplify the procedures for taking part in EU-funded research projects.
Announcing the plan at The European Commission in Brussels today, she said that minimising the administrative burden on researchers was vital.
“We need to get the best researchers and most innovative companies taking part and we need to enable them to concentrate on results, not red tape,” she said.
Getting European research to its full potential is crucial to the EU’s Europe 2020 Strategy, as it is seen as sources of growth and new jobs to replace those lost in the crisis.
As well as the proposals on simplification, the Commission has also appointed a group of independent experts to review all aspects of the current Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).
Geoghegan-Quinn explained: “Our proposals aim to minimise administrative burdens in Europe’s research programmes. We need to get the best researchers and most innovative companies taking part and we need to enable them to concentrate on results, not red tape. That will boost Europe’s economy and quality of life. In particular, we must encourage more SMEs to join in. I believe this can be done without compromising financial control. We are asking the other EU institutions for support to achieve this.”
Financial regulation review
Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski added: “The review of the financial regulation which the Commission will present next month will underpin these ideas for simplifying research funding with concrete legal proposals, helpful also in many other policy areas. We need simpler rules to encourage potential beneficiaries of EU funds – such as small and medium enterprises or NGOs – to apply for them. Simplification means the EU budget serving citizens and businesses better.”
The proposals look at three main areas. The first involves making improvements under the current legal and regulatory framework, some of which are already under way. The second part looks at changing the existing financial rules to allow more radical simplification while maintaining effective control. The Commission also aims to allow projects to use the same accounting methods for EU funding as they are required to use for national research funding.
The third type of change envisaged will be considered for implementation under future Research Framework Programmes. Among the options presented is a move towards “payment by results”, which would mean that beneficiaries were paid lump sums to undertake specific scientific tasks and would need to demonstrate that they have done so effectively and efficiently, rather than to report individual cost items.
By Deirdre Nolan
Photo: Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn