Monday, March 14, 2005
Supporting scientific research in the EU
How should scientific research in the EU be funded? What are the priorities for the next few years? How can research policy help make Europe more competitive? Members of Parliament are suggesting some answers to these questions in adopting an own-initiative report. This debate comes a few weeks before the European Commission unveils its draft 7th Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7). The Commission will be making proposals on funding levels as well as the main research areas to be supported. Doubling of research budget
MEPs believe that more funding is needed for research and innovation if Europe is to improve its competitiveness. The European Research Area will become a reality only if a larger share of research funding is channelled via the EU. They therefore want the percentage of Member States' GDP represented by the FP7 budget to be at least doubled and not put up for discussion during the negotiations on the financial perspective. They also call on the Commission to plan the FP7 in line with its proposals for the 2007-2013 financial perspective and to stick to its position that the EU budget needs to be set at a figure significantly higher than 1% of GDP.
The budget for research will also be the subject of an oral question to the Commission. MEPs will be asking the Commission to indicate how a doubling of the EU budget for research can be financed.
Priorities for the 7th Framework Programme
The report by Pia Elda LOCATELLI (PES, IT) stresses the importance of continuity between the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes but calls for procedures to be made clearer and simpler. MEPs say the main research areas should reflect the strategic priorities of the Lisbon agenda. The programme should also be influenced by a genuine debate among EU and national institutions, the scientific community and industry.
MEPs believe that, in order to cope with the growing worldwide environmental dangers, it is essential that European research policy strongly promotes R&D in the field of natural hazards.
The Commission's decision to include space research as well as security is welcomed by MEPs. However, they also want to see support for research into the life sciences, nanotechnologies, chemicals. MEPs particularly want renewable energy and energy efficiency to be supported. Parliament also considers that the EU should ensure financing of currently under-funded research on illnesses that affect citizens of developing countries.
A European Research Council
Parliament fears that the EU's competitiveness may gradually decline if it does not invest sufficiently in basic and long-term research. MEPs want the European Research Council proposed by the Commission to be set up swiftly, although they stress it must avoid duplication with existing bodies such as the Joint Research Centre. The aim of the Research Council should be to provide EU support for basic research. It must have adequate funding and avoid generating more red tape.
Source Read the full report
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