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European Flag    Europa The European Commission Research 1999 Annual Report
  Annual Report 1999Contents
  1. Adoption of a new research policy

Improvements in management procedures


Questions of research management continued to enjoy a high profile in the discussions on the 5th Framework Programme and the specific programmes implementing it. The overall objectives have been to improve harmonisation of procedures, speed and transparency, while maintaining rigour and fairness in the selection process and the follow-up of projects.

To that end, the Commission worked on implementing its plans discussed at the informal ministerial colloquium held in London on 28 April 1998, especially by incorporating the results into the texts for the final decisions on the specific programmes.

Several meetings of the Commission services with personal representatives of research ministers followed, focusing on preparations for the implementation of the 5th Framework Programme. These concerned in particular the setting-up of networks of information and assistance providers within the Member States. Also discussed were relations between COST and the European Union programmes, the interface between the work of the European Science Foundation and the Framework Programme and benchmarking of research management performance between the European programmes and national programmes. More detailed work to compare best practice between various research management agencies will be defined in 1999.

A meeting was also held with the members of the European Parliament Energy, Research and Technology Committee in October 1998. The Commission services presented their proposals for the implementation of the 5th Framework Programme and an exchange of views was held concerning issues such as proposal evaluation and "clustering" of research projects.

With the adoption and launch of the 5th Framework Programme, preparatory work was pursued by an internal interservice working group on programme management. Among the items which have emerged are:

  • The preparation of guides to proposers with a common structure and a common part for all specific programmes, as well as harmonised application forms;

  • The setting-up of a common system for electronic proposal preparation and submission, and of a common infrastructure for the evaluation of research proposals;

  • A common evaluation manual for the 5th Framework Programme, setting out the overall guidelines and procedures to be followed by all programmes;

  • An internal code of conduct to speed up the administrative processing of files for which Commission decisions are required; proposers rejected at an early stage in the process will now receive early notification;

  • A new set of model contracts, drawn up by the Commission services with the help of a joint IRDAC/ESTA working group representing the interests of industry and academic science.

The Commission also recognised that its internal structures needed to be changed in order to reflect better the structure of the 5th Framework Programme and its new "problem solving" approach. Both DG XII and the research directorates of DG III and DG XIII have undergone reorganisations in structure and staffing. The greater size and coverage of FP5 programmes will be reflected in a management structure having greater recourse to "collegiate" management by groups of directors rather than, as in the past, each programme being managed by one director.

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