Research, Policy: Debate over future EU research funding near completion
The European Commission is winding up its consultation on the upcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) - for which it has invited contributions from the scientific community and the public at large. Scientists have, in general, welcomed the debate and are largely confident that their views will be heard.
Since the Commission launched its FP7 consultation at the beginning of August 2004, it has received a large volume of suggestions and feedback from the scientific community.
Most researchers welcomed the opportunity to help shape the EU’s future research priorities. Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, president of the European Heads of Research Councils, voiced his opinion that this formal consultation was “the right approach”.
This, he argues, will help build on FP6’s strong track record by addressing the current Framework Programme’s (2002-2006) shortcomings. “There is no doubt that the EU Framework Programmes have contributed to improving the quality of research in Europe,” he told The Scientist. However, he noted that the bureaucratic procedures connected with Union funding needed to be slashed.
Echoing others in the research community, Mr Winnacker called for the setting up of a 'European Research Council' to fund and oversee basic research. “The European Commission is very open to our proposal for creating such an agency,” he noted.
Seizing a ‘historical’ opportunity
This groundbreaking debate comes on the heels of the Commission Communication ‘Science and technology, the key to Europe's future’. The document outlines proposals for new technology partnerships, a new agency to support basic research, and a new management structure for EU-funded initiatives. The Communication also proposes a major increase for the EU research budget.
The Commission recommends that a specific mechanism for basic research, with its own funding stream, be introduced under FP7. This is because “the support provided by [FP6] for basic research seems limited”, the Communication explains.
Some scientists view FP7 as a ‘historic’ opportunity to give scientific excellence a more central position in EU research. The consultation is drawing to a close. Scientists and other stakeholders, including members of the public, who still wish to make their voices heard in the debate have until 15 October 2004 to do so (see the links section below).
Source: EU and external sources
The consultation website
The consultation questionnaire
Background on consultation
The Commission’s Communication [ - 153 Kb]