Select Committee on European Scrutiny Third Report


EUROPEAN COMMUNITY FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME FOR RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT 2002-06



(22646)
11756/01
COM(01) 500

Draft Decision on the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities and for the dissemination of research results for the implementation of the European Community Framework Programme 2002-2006.


Legal base: Article 167 and 172 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 10 September 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 11 September 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 27 September 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 8 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (22236) 6921/01: HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 14 (2 May 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date known
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but request to be kept informed

Background

14.1  In its Communication,[22] Making a reality of the European research area: guidelines for EU research activities (2002-2006), the Commission maintained that the realisation of the European Research Area required the next Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development to be more closely connected with national activities and European inter-governmental co-operation initiatives. Shortly after the Communication, the Commission published in February 2001 its proposals for the new Framework Programmes for the EC and Euratom covering the period of 2002-2006.[23] The Framework Programmes sought to make a reality of the European Research Area (ERA) by integrating European research; structuring the ERA; and strengthening the foundations of the ERA.

14.2  The document builds upon the objectives of the earlier Framework Programmes. It sets out the Commission's proposals for improving the management of the programme by adapting the rules on involvement with research programmes and dispersing project results in line with the philosophy and characteristics of the programme as well as by simplifying and streamlining existing provisions.

The document

14.3  To assist in the creation of a European Research Area, the Framework Programme applies the following three principles: first, the principle of opening projects to new participants; second, flexibility in operational conditions, including procedures for launching new activities; and third, autonomy in project implementation, whereby participants are left to carry out their tasks in primarily self-determined conditions and under their own internal arrangements.

14.4  The draft decision proposes the introduction of several new features into the rules for participating and financing in order to apply the above principles and to align the rules with the objectives of the new framework programme. These include:

    —  giving participants from Member States and associated candidate countries the same rights and obligations;

    —  permitting European scientific organisations, such as CERN, to participate on the same basis as entities established in Member States;

    —  allowing third country organisations to participate in actions carried under the bulk of the framework programme. Those participating in specific international cooperation measures will be entitled to funding;

    —  the drawing up of general selection criteria which take into consideration the aims of the new programme;

    —  financial contributions will incorporate greater flexibility and effective controls, especially post controls; and

    —  permitting consortia responsible for networks and integrated projects the opportunity to change the partnership subject to clearly defined conditions.

14.5  Furthermore, rules concerning intellectual property have also been simplified to make them identical for all participants. Provisions have also been introduced to make it easier for SMEs to participate.

— Chapter II — Instruments

14.6  This establishes the types of research activity which may be undertaken, including the new Networks of excellence and the Integrated projects. It also sets out the general principles about who can participate, the minimum number of participants and their place of establishment (intended to ensure transnational collaboration), and how research proposals will be submitted, evaluated and selected.

— Chapter III — Participation in Indirect Actions and Financing

14.7  This sets out contractual provisions, such as financial liability, which govern the execution of the proposed research. It also sets out the forms which the Community financial contribution make take. These include:

    —  Networks of excellence — grant for integration, determined in relation to the value of the capacities and resources which the participants propose to integrate; and

    —  Integrated projects and the remaining instruments - a grant to the budget, calculated as a percentage of the budget allocated by the participants.

14.8  Provision is also made for the monitoring and auditing of the projects in order to protect the financial interests of the Community.

— Chapter IV — Rules for Dissemination and Use

14.9  This section relates to the ownership of knowledge arising from the research and how it should be protected, used and disseminated. This chapter defines the rights of access to knowledge resulting from the research and to pre-existing know-how.

The Government's view

14.10  In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Minister for Science at the Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury) states that:

    "The Government supports the Commission's objective of simplifying and streamlining the administration of the Framework programme. The Government also welcomes in principle the proposal to introduce two new key financial instruments, Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects. These should contribute to the creation of a European Research Area by concentrating limited funds on high quality collaborative research in a limited number of fields, which are important to Europe's competitiveness and the quality of life of its citizens.

    "The Commission's proposal sets out general provisions and requires clarification of a number of concepts, for example in relation to the opening of projects to new participants and the arrangements to ensure greater autonomy for project participants. Specific detailed rules will be developed subsequently, notably in work programmes for each of the thematic priority areas, model contracts and the evaluation manual. The Government will work to ensure that the implementation arrangements maintain the principles of scientific excellence, independent peer review and transparency. At the same time, the Government will aim to ensure that the rules help to encourage diverse participation, including by small and medium-sized enterprises and research organisations, including in the candidate countries.

    "In view of the fact that the detailed operation of the new mechanisms is still subject to some uncertainty, the Government has an open mind at this stage about the possibility of some form of transitional arrangements to ensure a reasonable amount of continuity with the current arrangements."

Conclusion

14.11  The sixth Framework Programme is an important part of the European Research Area and we welcome the development of procedures in this area which would permit the better regulation and administration of research. We are also glad to note that the Commission has decided to focus on Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects as the vehicles by which to develop the programme.

14.12  During our consideration of the draft Decision on the Framework Programme, we expressed concern about the lack of anti-fraud provisions in the measure and were informed by the Government that such provisions would be included in the specific measures implementing the Framework Programme. We are therefore pleased to note the inclusion of such measures in this proposal.

14.13  Although the decision is not binding, we would like to be kept informed of the detailed operation of the new mechanisms and what transitional measures, if any, are proposed.

14.14  We now clear the document.


22   (21698) 12214/00 (21696) - ; see HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 40 (15 November 2000). Back

23   (22236) 6921/01; see HC 28-xiii (2000-01), paragraph 14 (2 May 2001). Back


 
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Prepared 12 November 2001