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The European Commission has recently outlined a ‘new bureaucracy cutting plan’. Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn responsible for the research, innovation and science portfolio introduced a proposal to cut red tape in EU research funding at the Press Conference on Simplification of Research Funding held on 29 April. According to the Commissioner, the EU's research policy is successful and its Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7) for the period of 2007-2013 is running well. Nevertheless, she highlighted that it is essential to use the existing funds for research and innovation in the most efficient way.
The FP7 has already funded around seven thousand projects with the participation of almost all European universities since its start in 2007. This is a real achievement. However there is still a room for improvement, especially in the field of administration. Nearly eleven thousand people have signed a petition highlighting the cumbersome regulations and administrative burdens which make EU funded research projects less efficient than they could be and discouraging the participation of scientists and small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) alike. According to Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, the proposal will introduce simplifications while maintaining financial control at the same time.
The newly launched proposal aims specifically to reduce the highly demanding paperwork load scientists face. Many changes have already been made by the simplification of forms, the improvement of IT tools and better online communication with applicants. More changes—such as improvements in auditing, accounting, the structure and content of ‘calls for proposals’—can be expected. Since these proposals entail the European Parliament’s, and the Council’s approval, the main changes in the current rules will possible only after 2013 when the FP7 programme ends.