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By a vote of 553 in favour, 12 against and 7 abstentions, the European Parliament (EP) approved a resolution on 11 November supporting the European Commission’s initiative, dating from April 2010 (see ACA Newsletter-Education Europe, May 2010), to simplify the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes. In doing so, however, the EP resolution also asserts that simplification is “only one of the necessary reforms required to improve EU research funding” and in any case should be “carefully deployed” in the current FP7 in order to “maintain stability, consistency, and legal certainty” as well as “providing mutual trust between all the stakeholders”.
Beyond administrative and financial simplification, additional areas of concern noted by the EP’s resolution include the importance of improving quality, accessibility and transparency. Committing to a real “science-based” approach to research funding and support that emphasises “scientific/technical criteria” rather than financial and administrative issues is also noted. The EP further calls for improving the level of “risk-tolerance” at all stages in the research funding process, by focusing more on “risk management” rather than outright risk avoidance. Calls for better management of time are also voiced, with the specific proposal made that the “time-to-contract” (from proposal to signed contract) not exceed six months.
Looking toward FP8, the resolution asserts that a “radical overhaul” of the FP administration is one of the “highest priorities” to be tackled. In this vein, the revision of the Financial Regulation and Staff Regulations may be key areas to watch moving forward.