Are there existing provisions in this area?
Recent work carried out under the auspices of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) recognised that existing legal forms under national law (e.g. the French société civile, the German Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH), the UK limited liability company (Ltd) or the Dutch stichting (foundation)) do not fulfil the needs of these new pan-European research infrastructures. The analysis is similar for existing legal forms under international or Community law (e.g. international/intergovernmental organisations, European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG) or European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC)). ESFRI thus identified a need to develop a dedicated Community legal framework for setting-up European research infrastructures involving several Member States.
The new legal framework is therefore designed to facilitate the joint establishment and operation of research facilities of European interest among several Member States and countries associated to the Community R&D Framework Programme, and to help develop further the European policy for research infrastructures. This should complement the advances already achieved since 2004, in particular through ESFRI. A wide-ranging consultation has been carried out to prepare this initiative, including analysis conducted by experts and consultation of stakeholders.
Is this regulation only for new research infrastructures?
Member States interested in the conversion of a research infrastructure already existing as an entity under a national or another legal form into an ERIC could use the same procedure as for a new infrastructure. The assets and activities of the existing entity could then be transferred to the ERIC, following appropriate (e. g. national) procedures. However, owing to the variety of the legal forms currently used the regulation contains no specific provision on this transfer.
Can research organisations be members of an ERIC?
Only Member States, third countries and intergovernmental organisations can be members of an ERIC. However, a state may decide to be represented by one or more public entities or private entities with a public-service mission, e.g. research organisations or research councils.
What will the typical timing be for deciding about an ERIC?
Following the application to the European Commission, the typical timing for the decision could be between 4 and 8 months. Applications have been possible since 28 August 2009, the date of entry into force of the ERIC Regulation. Considering the time necessary for agreeing on the statutes, first applications will possibly arrive by the end of 2009 - or early 2010. The first ERIC could therefore be established by autumn 2010.
What would be the status of the employees of an ERIC?
The ERIC Regulation is very flexible on that issue. Employment contracts can be subject to any applicable law; in most cases the law of the host state will be the easiest to use. Nevertheless, the law of the state where the employee will work in practice (possibly different from the host state) could also be considered.