European Commission seeks to improve research and innovation funding

The European Commission issued a Green Paper which proposes a “Common Strategic Framework”. The changes, to be introduced in the next EU budget after 2013, will cover the current Framework Programme for Research (FP7), the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The Green Paper underlines three key aspects.

First, there is a clear focus on three mutually reinforcing objectives: giving the EU a world-leading science base; boosting competitiveness across the board; and tackling major challenges such as climate change, resource efficiency, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

Second, EU funding will become more attractive and easier to access for participants, for example through a single entry point with common IT tools or a one-stop shop for providing advice and support to participants throughout the funding process.Furthermore, the Common Strategic Framework will allow a more streamlined set of funding instruments covering the full innovation chain, including basic research, applied research, collaboration between academia and industry and firm-level innovation.

Third, procedures and rules will be fundamentally simplified through the development of a more standardised set of rules covering all participants in EU research and innovation programmes. These rules should consider additional measures such as a wider use of lump sums or the general acceptance of beneficiaries’ own accounting practices. The result would be increased flexibility necessary to cater for the diversity of funding needed to cover the full innovation cycle. Flexibility and speed of delivery are also essential to attract business stakeholders (in particular SMEs).

Other ideas in the Green Paper include: further steps to pool Member States’ national research funding; better links with cohesion funding; using EU funding to stimulate public procurement; more use of prizes; further strengthening the role of the European Research Council and of financial instruments such as the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF) and the loan guarantee and venture capital investments; and drawing up a set of performance indicators to measure the success of EU research and innovation funding.

The Commission is seeking the views of all interested individuals and organisations on these proposed changes and on the specific questions set out in the Green Paper. The deadline for contributions is Friday 20th May 2011. In parallel, a competition for the name of the Common Strategic Framework is being organised.

There are a number of ways to contribute through the website:

• An online questionnaire, in particular for interested individuals, companies, research institutes and citizens. The questionnaire has been designed to be quick to complete, and it is not necessary to answer all questions.

• Submission of written responses, in particular for associations and large organisations that wish to provide in-depth views. Such responses will be published on this site immediately following their submission. Written responses should follow the structure and questions set out in the Green Paper. It is not necessary to respond to all questions, and additional ideas are welcome

• An interactive blog, where various questions and topics from the Green Paper and from responses received will be posted on a regular basis for open comment, debate and ideas.

• Events, which are being organised by countries and organisations during the consultation period. The Commission asks organisations who wish to submit comments in the context of this public consultation to provide the Commission and the public at large with information about whom and what they represent. If an organisation decides not to provide this information, it is the Commission’s stated policy to list the contribution as part of the individual contributions. The broad debate on this Green Paper will be complemented by targeted consultations. The responses received will be analysed carefully be the Commission services. On 10th June 2011, an event will be organised to wrap up the public consultation and discuss the results with the stakeholder community. The Commission plans to put forward its formal

legislative proposals for a Common Strategic Framework for EU research and innovation funding by the end of 2011.