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Procedure : 2011/2107(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0302/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0302/2011

Debates :

PV 26/09/2011 - 16
CRE 26/09/2011 - 16

Votes :

PV 27/09/2011 - 8.6
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Debates
Monday, 26 September 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

16. EU research and innovation funding (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the report (A7-0302/2011) by Marisa Matias, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, on the Green Paper entitled: From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding (2011/2107(INI)).

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Mr President, I am, of course, going to follow your suggestion to stay here. I am staying here, but I would like to ask you – as you already mentioned last time – not always to only look straight ahead, but also to look left and right. Then you will also see if someone is using a white card to ask for the floor for the next debate. I would have done so, but it is very difficult to use a white card to ask for the floor in the catch-the-eye procedure if you do not look to the sides. I would ask for your understanding and I very much hope that you will also allow your gaze to sweep to the sides. I would now like to ask to speak in the catch-the-eye procedure.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you. I will watch out for this.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias, rapporteur. – (PT) Mr President, I should like to start by thanking everyone for the collaboration and the excellent cooperation that we have seen during the drafting of this report. I should like to do so in particular because the report was drafted during the summer break, which is always a particularly difficult period but everyone made themselves available to participate in carrying out the various obligations, which has made it possible for us to be here today, debating the content of the report.

I would additionally like to thank the rapporteurs of the opinions of the various committees that were involved for the contributions they made, which have been included in the final report. Finally, before moving on to the actual content of the report, I must express my utmost gratitude and thanks to Susanne Kiefer and Oren Gai, staff of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, who worked with me during the month of August; I truly believe that they deserve very special thanks and recognition.

And so to the matter at hand; the Commission has judiciously launched the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding for the 2014-2020 period. We have already had various opportunities to discuss this matter with the Commissioner, and it is my honest opinion that this represents the perfect opportunity to reinforce the strengths and benefits of research and innovation at a European level.

Additionally, however, as I have said on many occasions, my understanding is that a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding cannot be completed from the sum of its parts, as we know that the whole is often not equal to the sum of its parts. Therefore, when we put together the Framework Programme, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and add in the associated funds, we do not have a common strategy unless we also think about the objectives that should be associated with this proposal.

That is why, right from the beginning, I sought to define what the main objectives were in the proposal. I believe that the available resources will primarily serve a threefold purpose.

The first is to reinforce capacities: European researchers are our most valuable resource with regard to research. Reinforcing these capacities, together with infrastructures, is one of the areas of investment that we must urgently address.

Secondly, the second objective is research potential and cooperation. This is without doubt one of the areas in which we have been most successful; we must reinforce this, and we must not let fundamental areas that are crucial for European wealth, such as social sciences and basic research, slide. Without these, we lose innovation, without these we remain uninformed about the societies in which we must politically intervene; it is for these reasons that we must not let them slide.

Thirdly, innovation and the market must serve the common good. I believe that it is only by defining our objectives that we can truly create a common framework that serves all and that has the potential to convert research and innovation into central and determining factors in such pivotal times as the one we currently find ourselves in: a time of economic, social and financial crisis that is leading us to an increasingly disparate Europe.

That is why I decided to keep the Structural Funds separate from the European Funds, as it is essential that we pave the way to cohesion; it is therefore important to guarantee decent working conditions for European researchers and to ensure that the simplification measures for research are implemented. I speak as a researcher with ten years experience. Researchers cannot be the guinea pigs of the very bureaucratic systems that we create; those measures must be implemented. This also underlines the importance of considering not just excellence, but also the path to excellence.

In a divergent Europe, competition cannot be a race that is always won by those who have access to the first places at the winning post, and we know who they are, Commissioner. Therefore, it is important to guarantee that competition, as seen in the field of research and innovation, remains healthy to ensure the best conditions for all; this must be done with a view to cohesion and convergence, to ensure that the whole of Europe is an area of excellence in this respect.

 
  
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  Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I am delighted to have this opportunity to address all of you before the final vote tomorrow morning on the Green Paper own-initiative report ‘Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding’, now known as the Horizon 2020 Programme. I congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Matias, for this excellent and enriching report and for delivering it in good time, allowing the Commission to consider your proposals in depth in the context of drafting the Horizon 2020 package.

I would also like to thank the ITRE shadow rapporteurs, as well as the members of the six committees that delivered their opinions to ITRE. The Parliament has been showing an immense interest in the operation of the future EU research and innovation programme, which is very significant as the Horizon 2020 proposals will be transmitted to you for your consideration.

Horizon 2020 will come into effect for the next financial framework commencing in 2014. Within the Commission’s proposal for this new budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework adopted on 29 June, we set out a total budget of EUR 80 billion for Horizon 2020 at constant 2011 prices.

This is a budget designed to stimulate growth and jobs. The overall financial envelope is ambitious but realistic. Prioritising investment in these areas now is the recipe to ensuring growth and jobs in the future. With this proposal the Commission is clearly showing its strong commitment to delivering on the ambitions of Europe 2020 and innovation union.

The aim of Horizon 2020 is to make EU research and innovation funding more efficient, easier to access for participants and have a greater impact. The overwhelming response to the consultation launched by the Green Paper earlier this year has given us a very practical input as to how this can be achieved. More than 1 300 responses to the online questionnaire were received and stakeholders also submitted some 750 consolidated position papers.

I would like to thank Ms Matias, as well as the other MEPs who participated actively in the event on 10 June 2011 to wrap up the Green Paper consultation process. This was an excellent way to show all stakeholders that the EU institutions are working together to achieve the same policy goals.

I think that the main issues addressed in your report are in line with those raised during the consultation process. We are clearly in broad agreement concerning the main issues that should be considered in our future funding programme. I would like to highlight some of your suggestions for Horizon 2020 that are particularly interesting to the Commission.

I am of course very satisfied with the strong support you show for the concept of the common strategic framework and its objective of bringing research and innovation closer together and providing support across the full innovation cycle, from lab to market. Excellence will remain the main criterion for allocating research and innovation funding. At the same time it is necessary to build stairways of excellence for those Member States and regions that are under-represented in the current framework programme. This will mainly be a task for the structural funds. I am determined that our researchers should spend more time at their work and less time on administration. Simplification will be a major element of the Horizon 2020 package.

One issue where we strongly agree is the need for a measure of continuity as regards the main successful instruments in the current programmes. This concerns, in particular, collaborative research, the European Research Council and the Marie Curie Actions. I am also pleased that we both support an approach that places EU funding close to societal challenges and therefore close to the EU’s ambitious policy objectives in areas such as climate change, health, energy and security.

Finally, I would like to highlight that the Matias report takes on board several ideas already foreseen in the Carvalho report on simplification, the Merkies report on Innovation Union, and the Audy report on the FP7 Interim Evaluation. From the Commission’s point of view, a line of continuity and coherence has been maintained and this has been of great help to us as we prepare the legislative proposals for Horizon 2020.

 
  
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  Carl Haglund, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Budgets.(SV) Mr President, it is easy to agree with the conclusions of this report, and the Committee on Budgets has a very positive view of the final result that we are to vote on tomorrow.

I would like to highlight in particular the Common Strategic Framework that the Commissioner just mentioned. What are also worth noting from a financing perspective are the possibilities for the future offered by the European Investment Bank and what have been termed ‘innovative solutions’, which the Committee on Budgets also see as a positive option.

Then again, at the same time it may be good to remember that there is a difference between loans and grants, and the debate on soft loans should be conducted wisely so that the boundary between these two categories does not become blurred.

As regards the Europe 2020 strategy, we know that we are likely to find barely enough research funds in the next multiannual financial framework and therefore it is important for the Cohesion Funds to also be involved in this work.

Last but not least, we must also avoid the sorts of problems that we are experiencing right now with the financing of ITER or we will end up in the same situation that we are facing in respect of the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Lara Comi, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this report identifies many important elements that warrant due consideration: coordination between research and innovation programmes and the cohesion funds by strengthening the role of regional and local governments, as well as simplifying procedures and providing the necessary flexibility to update policy priorities.

Allocating a share of the budget to small and medium-sized enterprises concerns young people and businesswomen above all, creating a link with the standard creation system. In particular I would like to highlight one element I personally proposed, the voucher for innovation. This consists of assessing, within the common strategic framework, a trial based on the principle of accreditation – of vouchers – in order to encourage companies to focus on technological development and innovation, creating a system where the various stakeholders, enterprises, universities and research centres can take an active role in the creation of innovative processes.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development also wanted to emphasise the potential importance of research for the entire agri-food system. This is not simply research leading to innovation in the laboratory, but research that can produce concrete results in the field.

We felt it necessary to emphasise that research can provide solutions for the people of the world. We are facing population growth with the well-founded expectation that there will be a 70% increase in demand for food by 2050. We have to provide answers to this problem, and research will play a role. It must also be able to offer increasing support to the demands of a clean environment. This means the rise in population must be accompanied by environmental protection, renewable energy and reduced levels of CO2 production.

 
  
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  Ioannis A. Tsoukalas, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Fisheries. (EL) Mr President, as deputy member of the Committee on Fisheries, I am standing in for Mr Wałęsa who, unfortunately, is unable to attend this plenary.

This report is extremely important to European research and innovation policy, because it aims to limit overlaps and wastage and to introduce standard European objectives and mechanisms for funding research and innovation. Numerous countries, including – unfortunately – my own, are still a long way off the target of 3% of GDP for research and innovation by 2020 and this will, without doubt, result in a twin-track Europe.

Of course, when we speak of a deficit in research, we are not referring solely to high-tech sectors. It is also important, albeit not obvious, that we support research in the fisheries sector. Research and development activities in the neglected fisheries sector will bring about a more competitive, viable and modern fisheries sector and be of considerable benefit to Europeans who depend on fisheries.

 
  
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  President. – As you have mentioned our fellow Member Jarosław Wałęsa, who could not be with us today, I wanted to inform you that I visited him in hospital last Saturday. He said he was sure he would be back here with us in February, or March at the latest, fully restored to health. He sent best wishes and regards to all his colleagues in the European Parliament. I am passing them on to you now.

 
  
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  Antigoni Papadopoulou, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. (EL) Mr President, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality considers that female entrepreneurship ensures business dynamism and innovation and helps to increase the female employment rate, which is one of the basic aims of the EU 2020 strategy.

However, there is untapped female potential in the research and innovation sector. Female researchers experience discrimination, gender stereotypes, a ‘glass ceiling’ and ‘leaking pipeline’, insufficient funding and unequal opportunities for advancement. We are therefore calling for gender mainstreaming in the Common Strategic Framework and for proper funding of structural funds and cohesion policies, so that female researchers can develop innovative business plans, can participate in education and scientific programmes, have adequate mobility and can participate in networking platforms.

Finally, we propose a gender equality action plan as part of the Common Strategic Framework, in order to guarantee a fairer allocation of funding on the basis of European Research Council research, indicators and information.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho, on behalf of the PPE Group. (PT) Mr President, I should like to start by congratulating Ms Matias on her outstanding report and on the constructive collaboration that she established with the other political groups. It is with delight that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) sees its main proposals considered in this report. They are as follows: an increased budget for the next Research and Innovation Framework; the coordination of this framework with the Structural Funds; the inclusion of the stairway to excellence concept; the creation of conditions for industry and, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to be more greatly involved; the promotion of young researcher participation; and the simplification of administrative and financial processes.

Research and innovation are two fundamental pillars for economic development and job creation. Therefore, it is crucial to increase the portion of financing assigned to research and innovation within the global EU budget. This should be achieved by substantially increasing the framework programme and the percentage of the Structural Funds designated for this area.

The primary objective of the framework programme is to promote excellence and it must continue as such; however, the creation of the right conditions for the participation of small units or embryonic centres of excellence, such as small research groups and innovative companies, is equally important. In consideration of this objective, the report introduces the stairway to excellence concept.

In recognition of the fundamental role played by the business sector in job creation and economic development, the PPE Group welcomes the importance attributed to SMEs in this report. Unemployment amongst highly qualified young people is a curse in many EU countries; the participation of young people in research projects will be highly beneficial to this end.

Finally, simplifying research and development access to the funds is essential in order to create a culture of confidence amongst all those involved, so as to strengthen research and innovation in Europe.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vice-President

 
  
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  Edit Herczog, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (HU) Madam President, Commissioner, I too would like to congratulate the Commission and the rapporteur, and thank them, also on behalf of the co-rapporteurs, for their effective work. I believe it is very important to set four strategic goals for ourselves, which I would like to outline here on behalf of the S&D.

The first one is that heads of state and ministers should consider the EUR 80 billion targeted in the European Union’s next Multiannual Financial Framework as an investment, and not as a reserve fund from which money can be withdrawn occasionally. It is very important that investors and enterprises want to multiply this amount.

Our second strategic goal must be to achieve the Europe 2020 priorities. Let us not abandon these priorities for the sake of other research efforts, which, while important as well, are not critical from the perspective of the future of the European Union. If we have made a decision to build a green, energy efficient and intelligent economy, then our R&D and innovation resources must also support this decision.

The third strategic goal is human resource management. We must do everything in our power to ensure that exceptional researchers born in the territory of the European Union are not forced to move north of the Pyrenees, or west of the Odra. Research and development capacities must be created in these countries as well, so that these researchers are able to reach the peak of their excellence in their own countries.

And finally, Commissioner, the European Parliament agreed that we need a new industrial policy. R&D and innovation results obtained from these resources must be utilised in the territory of the EU with the horizontal and vertical cooperation of small, medium and large enterprises.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne, on behalf of the ECR Group. – World-class research funding needs to occur within a broader EU policy framework that supports economic growth and increases our global competitiveness. All too often, companies refer to conflicting policies in the EU. Last week I visited GE Healthcare in Wales where they research and commercialise state-of-the-art stem cell lines for pharmaceutical testing. The use of in vitro cell lines will provide a valuable alternative to animal testing but needs all 27 Member States to adopt a common set of rules for their use.

I was also visited last week by the Cord Blood Association, which supports key EU research but believes that policies could be better coordinated so that a European depositary might be a reality in the future for medical research samples to rival the NIH in the US.

A single set of rules would assist our research competitiveness, and interaction between leading industrial players in Europe and our academic institutions should be the norm as we pursue a competitive agenda.

For our research and innovation to be world class it must remain competitive and withstand at all times peer review.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, we would like to begin by saying that we share your enthusiasm over what you have managed to achieve so far, though of course we are still awaiting the final conclusions of the budget discussions. However, whatever the outcome, we feel that both the budget we are talking about, which has been substantially increased, and the simplified administrative rules, are two developments that will support a strong EU research and innovation policy.

Our group would just like to draw your attention to two points. The first relates to the simplification of the rules: naturally, we feel that from the point of view of the Commission’s administration, it is important for the procedures to be simplified. However, I think that the main people to benefit from a simpler situation and procedures ought to be the end users, in other words all the various researchers and companies who apply to the Commission for help. We would therefore like to maintain a ‘customer-centred’ focus, so to speak, rather than an internal focus.

Secondly, it is certainly important for us to be able to bring the results of our research to market, and hence to be as good at innovation as we may become at research. We know that Europe needs to make progress on this front. However, we should avoid going too far in the opposite direction, in other words devoting the entire budget to innovation, especially if, through public-private partnerships or through direct subsidies to companies, we end up favouring companies that already have the resources to invest.

We must be careful of this; we must avoid what one might call a windfall effect and ensure we do not give companies that are able to invest in innovation an investment incentive they do not need.

 
  
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  Jacky Hénin, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(FR) Madam President, the European Union is living with the failure of the Lisbon Strategy, which was supposed to have made Europe the most competitive and active knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010. However, instead of Europe putting the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy into practice, it is China that is doing so. In 2010, China’s public and private expenditure on research and development caught up with that of the European Union. In the very near future, China will have more engineers and researchers than the United States and the EU put together.

Against this very worrying backdrop, Europe’s aerospace industry is the only sector that is still holding out, because France, Germany and Spain acted responsibly in this area, even though it was not easy for them, by investing in the long term and by not sticking to dogma on free, fair competition. It is true that Europe’s failure to do enough in the area of research is one of the causes of deindustrialisation in some parts of the EU. Whilst this report shows an element of lucidity, it falls far short of what it ought to be, especially in terms of its diagnosis of the causes of this alarming situation and the solutions it suggests.

The crux of the problem is the lack of public investment in research, and the fact that it is subordinated to the financial markets’ aims and funding. It is also the fact that young researchers and engineers are in an insecure position and poorly paid, whilst parasitic financial professions, such as traders, earn scandalously high salaries, which amount to a reward for bad behaviour. Lastly, it is Europe’s failure to invest in developing a mass scientific and technical culture from the earliest age. It is becoming a matter of urgency for us to work towards incorporating know-how and knowledge as mainstream issues in society.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška, on behalf of the EFD Group. - (SK) Madam President, in publishing the Green Paper, the Commission has presented us with a vision defining the new common strategic framework for funding research and innovation after 2013.

The fact that EU countries are only investing about 1.5% of GDP in research, development and innovation means that the EU lags far behind its strong economic partners, and its policy in this area has so far failed to deliver the expected improvements.

It is therefore necessary to attempt a reorganisation of current systems and programmes for supporting research, development and innovation. We find many suggestions for reorganisation in the submitted report. These include the new triple-tiered model proposed by the rapporteur, Ms Matias, for eliminating inequalities in the opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to access and participate in the benefits of support for development and innovation.

Other suggestions include the simplification and greater transparency of mechanisms providing assistance, so that creative people are not discouraged by an excessive bureaucratic burden from making use of the EU’s available resources to speed up research and the exploitation of discoveries.

I firmly believe that every suggestion that will help improve the effectiveness of European policy on supporting research must be implemented as quickly as possible, as the degree to which the EU lags behind the developed world in this area is critical and inexcusable.

 
  
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  Herbert Reul (PPE).(DE) Madam President, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to Ms Matias for this report and to our fellow Members who prepared the earlier reports, Ms Merkies and Ms Carvalho. This is a continuing process, and the day is approaching when we not only take political decisions here, but also have to demonstrate that we mean business when we say that research and innovation are crucial for the future viability of the European Union.

I am therefore very grateful that the representative of the Committee on Budgets also mentioned that adequate funding in this area is an important issue. We will shortly have to settle the dispute as to whether we have the power to make available the financial resources that are necessary to give this area of research and innovation a truly central importance. This is of key importance for the question of whether and how Europe will develop in future. Then, I might add, all the fine and grandiose soapbox speeches will not suffice. Instead, facts will need to be provided.

The second comment that I would like to make is that we ourselves – and this point is developed very nicely in the report – will not be able to avoid looking very closely at whether we cannot use the resources that we have more effectively. How can we simplify the procedure? How can we achieve speed? How can we make research funding more effective? How can we obtain a stronger structure and greater simplification in what are sometimes still a confusing labyrinth of different types of research funding. Sometimes, less is more. Few projects but a lot of money invested will have a greater effect in the end. I am therefore grateful that we have taken things a step further once again with this report.

Of course, the European Research Council and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology will have a particular role to play, and the area of small and medium-sized enterprises is clearly also an important one. However, last but not least, we must also have a solution for those States that have not yet got very far with regard to the promotion of excellence, which must be extremely compelling and also remain the only principle in future.

The idea of a possible competition with which we could perhaps boost new cutting-edge research centres in neighbouring regions also appears in this report. This is an important issue that still needs to be resolved.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) (microphone turned off) … and European development over time have been successful and attracted interest, especially in the scientific community, because it is considered to be an important source of financing, one that has often replaced national financing.

The efforts made to make the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development more favourable to small and medium-sized enterprises have not improved their participation rate. Simplification has not hit the target. As the report by Ms Matias clearly indicates, there is a need for administrative simplification and a significant reduction of financial reporting requirements. I also hope for extensive coordination and complementarity among the different research programmes and financing structures on an EU and national level, in order to avoid overlap and to encourage optimisation of resources.

 
  
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  Ivo Strejček (ECR). - (CS) Madam President, Commissioner, I think it is quite clear that innovation and technological progress are the driving force behind economic progress. However, in terms of the report as a whole, it should encourage us or encourage me at least to consider two issues in greater depth, two points I would like to mention and to give my opinion on here. Firstly, in relation to individual projects and their approval and support, a business plan and market potential are indeed positive factors to be considered, but they are not necessary preconditions for approval. What else, other than the market and market success, can encourage innovation and inventions? What parameters other than profit should be taken into account? There is nothing shameful about the words ‘profit’ and ‘market success’. On the contrary, they are the movers behind all progress. Secondly ... and my time has just run out, which I greatly regret, but I shall respect my allocated minute.

 
  
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  Sampo Terho (EFD). - (FI) Madam President, clearly it is good to invest in science and research, but when we allocate resources, we need to ensure at the same time that we do not control the research too centrally. This applies both to the content of research and to where it takes place.

No European central power can decide where innovations will emerge. That is why applicants for funding in the Member States have to be treated absolutely equally. This means that everyone must have the same opportunities to receive aid and be judged by the same criteria, but this does not necessarily mean that everyone will always receive the same amount. Innovation policy should not be confused with regional policy, because less successful projects must never be favoured at the expense of better ones, even if, statistically, different Member States may receive a different amount of assistance.

If we genuinely want innovation, and not something else, we need to support good ideas and high quality research in particular, and not consider regional and social policy, the geographical distribution of research, or levelling out the difference in income between Member States. These things are important too, but they are different issues and only serve to disrupt the real promotion of innovations.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to congratulate Ms Matias for the work she has carried out. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with her on other reports, including those on innovation and falsified medicinal products, and the work has always been sound and intelligent, achieving excellent results.

I think that the interest the Commission and Parliament have shown in innovation and research marks a step forward in our work, and has led us, through a series of decisions, to target our demands correctly. They have also been taken up by the Commissioner.

The most important is greater funding, for which Parliament has decided to fight hard. Second is the conviction that the word research should now always be accompanied by the word innovation – meaning the niche that makes it possible to ensure that the product of the research also responds to market demands. The third highlighted element is Europe’s need to continually maintain and emphasise excellence, and to dedicate a tranche of its resources to research that more closely reflects the needs of its citizens and the area of small and medium-sized enterprises, meaning that level of research and innovation that creates a platform for the kind of innovative ideas that have always been a hallmark of our world, the world of research, the world of discovery.

I believe, therefore, that the work carried out so far is highly commendable. It should and will be completed only when funding has reached significant levels and when we respond to the need for administrative simplification, streamlined procedures and faster project assessment.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D).(RO) Madam President, the new Common Strategic Framework being proposed can facilitate wider access to the funding programmes by simplifying the procedures involved and increasing the transparency that it provides. I would like to highlight one aspect which has been talked about less, and I am pleased that Mr Reul, Chair of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, mentioned it here, that there are significant disparities in the European Union at Member State level in terms of research and innovation capacity, research infrastructure and industrial structure.

I think that the current funding framework programme favours the countries at a more advanced level, which means that the disparities will grow ad infinitum.

This is why I think that cooperation on research and innovation must be stepped up between Member States at EU level, and cohesion funding must supplement the future framework programme. This will provide the countries lagging behind with increased access to the funds available, thereby allowing them also to develop effective projects.

 
  
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  Vicky Ford (ECR). - Madam President, I would like to thank the rapporteur. We agree that funding for research helps us confront great challenges like health and ageing, and energy, food and water security, and we also agree that too often we have allowed bright ideas to be left in the lab or exploited elsewhere: so supporting innovation and development can help competitiveness and growth.

Through collaboration with industry, the EU research funding has encouraged significant private sector investment, and a balanced programme should support small companies and individual pockets of excellence while also recognising the crucial role played by larger companies and leading universities.

We must not dumb down excellence, and while Europe can complement Member States’ own programmes, it should not constrain them. Simplification remains key: less form-filling, more research. And Commissioner, just last week I met with many scientists in my region who raised serious questions about the impartiality of the peer review in certain sectors, so this is something we need to look at.

Finally, while increasing the investment in research is welcome, I am afraid I do not support picking random figures out of thin air.

 
  
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  Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE). - (SL) Madam President, I, too, would like to start by addressing financing. We all seem to concur that the research budget must be augmented. Several speakers have said today that EUR 80 billion would mean a considerable rise in the budget.

However, I, personally, do not agree with this, because the Seventh Framework Programme cannot be directly compared with the Eighth Framework Programme. To be specific, the Eighth Framework Programme contains everything that the Seventh Framework Programme does, but it also contains the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, the programme for innovation and competition, research that is currently covered by other appropriations, and probably some other things as well.

If the proposed financial perspective is cut during the negotiations, it will demonstrate that increased funding for research is not a European priority, contrary to what has often been said by Council representatives.

Secondly, I would like to address the issue of disproportional geographical distribution. This is typically explained away by the fact that scientific excellence is the main criterion for project selection. There is nothing wrong with that and, indeed, that is absolutely fine. However, we have to define scientific excellence in terms which will apply to small and large-scale projects alike.

Scientific excellence is not just a characteristic of large-scale, multi-million projects. Often, it will also be in evidence in small-scale projects. The next framework programme should, therefore, support such projects, too.

Thirdly, it is a fact that research quality varies between individual Member States and, what is more, between regions. I agree that Structural Funds projects should be used to lessen the gap between the current state of research quality and research excellence.

One last thing: the analysis carried out by the European Research Council (ERC) paints the same picture. The results show that projects are, by and large, awarded to large Member States and better-known universities. One of the researchers has told me that, judging by the current situation, the programme should be called Fame, not Ideas. We need to change the criteria so that the idea counts the most and, as far as researchers’ qualifications are concerned, they need to give us an assurance that the project will be implemented.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Madam President, we are currently facing an economic, social and environmental crisis, and basic and applied research, education and innovation are vital tools for promoting economic recovery and creating jobs. We call for the procedures for accessing European research and innovation funds and programmes to be simplified.

The Common Strategic Framework for funding research and innovation must be based on coordinating the research programmes of the European Union and Member States. It must find solutions to the global challenges facing society, such as demographic changes, sustainable management of resources and a sound, stable and equitable economic base. The participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in R&D&I collaborative projects should exceed the 15% mark. This is why it is vital to simplify procedures and remove the administrative barriers in order to achieve this target and get industry involved as a whole.

I call for an increase in funding for the development of GNSS-specific applications, without which the Galileo project will not be able to be utilised to its maximum potential.

 
  
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  Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (PPE).(PL) Madam President, to begin with, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the rapporteur for attempting to work out a mutual compromise. The European Parliament has agreed to consolidate all EU financial instruments for scientific research and innovation so that in future planning will cover all common strategic frameworks. I agree that this solution will contribute not only to a strengthening of European competitiveness on the international stage, but will also help considerably in simplifying and speeding up the grant application process for beneficiaries.

At the same time, we can see considerable differences between the Member States, which can be seen primarily in the different levels of expenditure on research and innovation and in the different levels of access to scientific infrastructure. Please note that line which marks this very clear contrast runs between the Member States which were part of what is called the old EU and the new Member States. The application of a standardised set of administrative, financial, organisational and information procedures, and forcing the harmonisation of principles and conditions of participation in various programmes to create a common and transparent system in the framework of the European research space is in the interest of all Member States.

It should also be added that the proposal to improve the representation of some Member States at European level by trying to make use of the potential of all areas of the EU seems to be fully justified, in that it will eliminate the threat of fragmentation and strengthen the principles of excellence in criteria such as the effect on integration, cost-effectiveness and fair pay. I support the need for maintaining an open system of cross-border scientific cooperation, but I consider the issue of the framework programme’s budget as a matter for open debate.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia De Campos (S&D). (PT) Madam President, I would like to congratulate Ms Matias on her excellent report. The importance of the Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding goes far beyond its strictly scientific objectives. This is a vital tool for Europe 2020, economic growth, job creation, innovation and competitiveness.

However, we must learn from the past and its mistakes. We need a more comprehensive and ambitious programme that is effective in promoting scientific excellence and supporting the economic and social use of the results of research; it must continue with the excellent work to date, furthering and extending it, as is the case of the European Research Council, whilst stopping at no lengths to simplify processes. Finally, it must be a programme that promotes a one-speed, single European research area, as has already been highlighted twice here, that is, blurring the differences between Member States.

In this respect, I would like to conclude with a word of warning: there is still much hard work to be done; we must consolidate the stairways to excellence. Failure is not an option for Europe.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I too would like to congratulate Marisa Matias for her excellent report.

Developments in the area of research and innovation are promising, in spite of the economic crisis. However, there is still a great deal to be done, especially with regard to Member States classified as modest innovators.

Significant disparities in terms of funding capacity prevail and are growing in the European Union. This gap is reflected in the level of participation in the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme. I believe that we need as part of the Common Strategic Framework a balancing mechanism to boost the research and innovation capacities of all Member States.

We need new approaches for assisting underperforming regions and Member States as education and innovation are vital tools for both promoting economic recovery and creating jobs. This is why the priority in the new programming period must be flexibility and simplification in all research and innovation programmes.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). (GA) Madam President, a lot of interesting points were mentioned here this afternoon and I was delighted about what the Commissioner said about the points that we should emphasise in future.

I think if we needed a reminder of the perilous state we in Europe are in, we got it this weekend with top economists around the world telling us to get our act together, and saying if we did not pull together we would probably fall apart. Solving the economic crisis is one thing in the short term; in the long term we need growth, we need jobs, and research and innovation are going to be crucial in that regard.

For that reason I think the Commissioner is absolutely correct in saying that we need to emphasise simplification, we need to make it easier for women and young people in particular to get access to research funding, and in particular we need to be close to society’s challenges. That is the most important point of all, because there is not much point in doing research on such wonderful topics as the sex life of the toad if it does not lead to jobs and growth in the long term.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, research, education and innovation are fundamental components of a sound, competitive economy. They are vital in a tough climate for promoting a sustainable economic recovery. This is why I welcome the Commission’s Green Paper, which is particularly timely in the current circumstances.

I also welcome the attention being focused on reducing the disparities between Member States in this area. This aspect is important for my country, Romania, as its values for the majority of indicators are considerably lower than the EU average. For example, the aggregate score for innovation is less than half the European average.

At the same time, I would like to stress the importance of regional cooperation, which fosters the exchange of good practices. I should mention, on this point, the proposal from Romania on creating an International Centre for Advanced Studies for the Danube River-Danube Delta-Black Sea System as part of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Madam President, I would also like to congratulate the rapporteur and to ask the Commissioner to be rather more demanding when it comes to budget matters, in particular. We are currently seeing an increase to EUR 50 or EUR 80 billion for this programme with, but also the incorporation of many other programmes, so that the net increase is actually very low. I would therefore like to ask, when it comes to the European Union’s own resources, for example with regard to the emissions trading revenue for the CO2 problem areas, could we not draw up a common programme with the national finance ministers so that these resources can only be spent to provide European added value, namely to provide research and innovation in respect of CO2 and global warming in an appropriate scientific manner?

Commissioner, would you be prepared to hold such talks and to attempt to establish a programme in this regard with European added value, alongside the financial framework that is currently being discussed, that will help us in the short term to carry out better research into the issues of global warming and CO2 and to provide possible solutions and – for small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular – appropriate products and services, so that Europe’s strategy going forward is also a sound one?

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union continues to move forward at too slow a pace in the area of science, and is not catching up with the United States and Japan, who are the leaders in this field.

On average the 27 Member States invest 2% of GDP in research and development, rather than respecting the 3% target set by the Commission. As a result the publication of the Green Paper by the European Commission seems even more opportune, as it enables us to actively revive the discussion, as described by the excellent report by Ms Matias. I second the request made by the rapporteur concerning the establishment of an all-European common fund to promote collaborative research in the European Union and reduce inequality among Member States.

At the same time I believe it is essential that any measure is preceded by a doubling of the research and innovation programme budget for the financing period from 2014.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE).(RO) Madam President, making more efficient use of research and innovation funding is a prerequisite for increasing the allocations in this area, in line with the aim of increasing the level up to the 3% target set as part of the EU 2020 strategy.

We are faced with a number of obstacles in the process of implementing the results obtained from research and innovation due to separate strategies being followed by national governments and regional authorities, which entail a great deal of duplication and fragmentation.

This is why the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) for research and innovation could regulate EU funding in these areas by creating a simpler, efficient structure. The CSF would help implement a suitable set of funding instruments, allowing Member States to have EU objectives at both local and regional level.

The funds for research and innovation must be aimed at attracting private investment, while SMEs must play an important role in launching and developing the products in the sectors in which they operate.

 
  
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  Cristina Gutiérrez-Cortines (PPE). - (ES)Madam President, I would like to thank Ms Matias for her report.

I would especially like to say a number of things to Ms Geoghegan-Quinn: firstly, do not disregard small projects. Silicon Valley was built on small projects. Europe needs a great many of these so that small universities may be brought on board.

Secondly, I believe that what Europe needs is human resources. Large projects should be tied to a scholarship programme so that more grant holders can go to large universities and institutes to receive training.

I think both the Structural Funds and this system should pay less attention to buildings – Europe has a plentiful supply of buildings but is indeed lacking in human resources.

I also believe, Commissioner, that you will find you have the full support of Parliament if Member States are also required, through the European Research Area (ERA), to simplify their procedures. Europe’s efforts at simplification should be met with transparent procedures on the part of the Member States, which will have to commit themselves, given that they will be receiving money.

Commissioner, you will have Parliament’s full support if we aim to achieve simple, transparent Council procedures.

 
  
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  Judith A. Merkies (S&D).(NL) Thank you, Madam President, Commissioner, I offer my compliments to Ms Matias for her report. If, immediately after the crisis, we are going to talk less about the growth agenda than about the crisis itself, then this really will have to be an explosion. Unfortunately that is not what will happen, it seems to me, as, with one thing or another, the growth agenda, the innovation agenda is still not high enough up the priorities list. Well, fortunately it is in your case, Commissioner, but the same does not yet apply to everyone.

We always talk about research, above all, as the source of growth, but it is not just research, it is the whole of society, it is a mindset, it is, more than anything, the business environment. Yes, we need to sow the seeds of growth, but that does not mean that we have to go and spray those seeds around willy-nilly. We need to sow those seeds in precisely the right way. What does that mean? Well, it means not fixating on research. It means paying a great deal of attention to start-ups, simplification, cutting red tape, easier access to funding and, above all, to the business climate, where other Commissioners, too, need to get involved in those areas that are not really within your portfolio. That means the internal market, creating a sound framework for consumption through the common strategic framework. It does indeed need to be ‘common’, but that means in common with the whole of the Commission and all of the Member States. Thank you.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D).(RO) Madam President, we are all aware that the European Union has set its target to increase spending on research and innovation to 3% of the EU’s GDP by 2020. However, as not all Member States will manage to meet this target successfully, I think that an integrated strategic approach is required to research and innovation as part of the 2020 strategy in order to increase public and private investments in this area.

As a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, I think that the European Commission should adopt an approach that maximises the relevant synergies from the Common Strategic Framework for research and innovation, the European Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Structural Funds. A strategy must be adopted based on as many additional funds as possible, which is aimed at research and innovation at regional level and supports the development of the institutional capacity of the regions intending to adopt research and innovation policies.

 
  
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  Riikka Manner (ALDE). - (FI) Madam President, Commissioner, firstly, I wish to congratulate the rapporteur for an excellent and important report. When speaking of research and development, we also always have to consider how we can create jobs and promote European competitiveness. To achieve this, we need to be able to make business and industry a more successfully integrated part of research policy.

Furthermore, we must remember that, although it is very important that we invest in excellence in cutting-edge research, we must also invest in research that creates innovations rooted in practice.

If we consider funding, we can support innovations rooted in practice which emerge at the customer interface, largely also via the Structural Funds. It is therefore important that, in the future and during the forthcoming financial period, we should be able to lower the barriers with regard to funding for Framework Programmes, as well as the Structural Funds.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Madam President, if we look at the value chain for a product – in other words, invention, production and marketing – amidst international competition, we can discover the following. The second step, in other words the production, has largely been relocated to Asia. The added value in Europe is based on research, development and marketing.

If we want to maintain this standard, we must provide adequate resources for research, particularly during the economic crisis. If we lose our innovation capacity, we will move ever closer towards a recession. Although synergies between the existing subsidies are to be welcomed, they must be evaluated separately. Large projects like Galileo should be entered on a separate project line and should not be a burden on the research and innovation budget.

The research and development funds need to be substantially increased and used in synergy with the Structural and Cohesion Funds. All investment is pointless if the individual States do not do their part and the standards and quality criteria for school education are not improved.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). - Madam President, it is self-evident that research and development need to be facilitated in all States. They are more and more necessary when our economies are subjected to unfair competition from low-wage emerging economies. The only way in which the high-wage developed world can hope to compete with these emerging economies is to be ahead of them in new technology. However, the benefits of this research and innovation will be blunted if the fruits of the research are not protected by an effective patents system, preferably in the Member States.

Emerging economies in the Far East are the worst offenders for copying western technology in blatant disregard of patent rights. JCB, the manufacturer of excavation machinery, has had to take action against three Far Eastern manufacturers for product copying. The manufacturers in question were brazenly exhibiting copied products at the Bauma construction equipment show in Munich.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would also like to congratulate Ms Matias on this report. Globally, Europe is the richest region, but the United States, Japan and the BRIC countries invest significantly more in innovation, research and development.

Although the investment volume in Europe has increased, when it comes to achieving the objective of a total investment of 3% of GDP by 2020, only six Member States have so far achieved more than 2%.

Knowledge is definitely a public good. Accordingly, the social aspects and impacts on society of research and innovation need to be taken into account. In this regard, particular attention must be paid to small and medium-sized enterprises. Support must be given in particular to female researchers in order to take gender equality into account.

 
  
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  Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the Commission. − Madam President, I am very encouraged by the debate that has unfolded here. In answer to comments by Mr Rübig and others in relation to the budget, obviously I am in the hands of Parliament and the Council. Certainly, from what I have heard this evening, I think that Parliament will be a very strong ally in support of an increased budget.

By way of conclusion, let me give you some flavour of how we think Horizon 2020 should be organised. It will be structured around three distinct but mutually reinforcing blocks, in line with Europe 2020 priorities. The first block, ‘Excellence in the science base’, will strengthen the EU’s excellence in science. The second, ‘Tackling societal challenges’, will respond directly to the challenges identified in Europe 2020. The third block, ‘Creating industrial leadership and competitive frameworks’, will support business, research and innovation.

Ms Matias, I know these blocks do not correspond to the ‘three layers’ in your report, but I hope you will agree that the components are there and the objectives are the same. Implementation will be simplified and standardised, with simplification covering both funding schemes and rules. Key aspects will include a rationalised set of funding schemes, a single set of rules, earlier project start dates and further externalisation. The administrative burden on participants will be reduced through a radically simplified cost reimbursement approach. This will be based on the broadest possible acceptance of participants’ accounting practices and a greater use of lump sums and flat rates.

The negotiation and selection phases will be shortened to allow projects to start earlier. Simpler guidance and advisory services will be provided through both a single IT portal and one-stop-shop support structures in the national language. There will be a clear differentiation between the objectives and modes of intervention of Horizon 2020 and those of the cohesion policy funds, to ensure complementarities and synergies. Horizon 2020 will allocate funds on the basis of excellence, regardless of geographical location. Cohesion policy funds will focus on research and innovation capacity-building through pre-allocated envelopes for eligible regions. European Regional Development Fund funding should support the development of smart specialisation strategies and should provide a ‘stairway to excellence’.

Based on these key principles, the Commission will now develop its proposals for presentation by the end of this year. The proposals would have not been possible without your enriching report. All the issues that have been addressed this evening and have been addressed in the report will certainly be looked at very seriously and taken into account by myself and my services over the coming weeks.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias, rapporteur. – (PT) Madam President, I should like to start by thanking all those who offered comments during this very interesting debate; I would also like to add that it is evident that this report is not an island within this Parliament, and I would also like to express my gratitude to Mr Reul for having drawn our attention to this.

It already forms part of a series of reports addressing research that point towards a series of common actions; they include the Carvalho report, the Merkies report, the Audy report – the author of which is not present today – and a series of parliamentary recommendations that address the same issues. This report provides some additional dimensions that I believe should be considered, given the debate that we have had here; however, there is a series of parliamentary recommendations, as I mentioned, that address the same issues.

Therefore, I would truly appreciate the Commission taking into account the recommendations of this House, the house of democracy. Research, innovation and development are obviously not insignificant matters: they comprise the third largest part of the European budget, after agriculture and cohesion. These aspects evidently represent a fundamental area for economic growth and job creation, and at this point I would like to stress again: quality jobs. We must put an end to this problem of job insecurity for researchers in many parts of Europe, and particularly for young researchers, an issue that has also been reinforced here. Additionally, another dimension I would like to see addressed is that of small and medium-sized enterprises. I do not have time to mention all the issues, so I will limit myself to these.

The Commissioner is aware that my initial proposal was to create a European Investment Bank for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they represent 80 to 90% of our industrial fabric and they do not have the same conditions of access. We reached the compromise of establishing a specific branch within the European Investment Bank dedicated to SMEs and I sincerely hope that we reflect on what public investment and public funding are for, as that is what we are talking about.

They are for research units, research centres, universities and other partners; they have been used for large companies, but they have not been used very much for small and medium-sized enterprises. This is one of the errors that without a doubt must be corrected and reinforced during the next financial framework: increasing the budget assigned to this area.

 
  
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  President. − The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 27 September 2011.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  András Gyürk (PPE), in writing. – (HU) Europe is one of the most developed regions of the world. However, some emerging countries have already overtaken us where investments in research, development and innovation are concerned. It is undeniable that the volume of European investments has increased, but even so, we are still using only a fraction of the EU’s innovative potential.

There are still significant differences between some countries; new Member States have access to only a fraction of resources. We must implement structural changes to increase the competitiveness of the EU. In my opinion, there are two tasks of critical importance.

I would highlight the simplification of administration as the first and most critical task. An overly complicated administration is costly, and makes participation of SMEs more difficult. Getting rid of parallel structures and providing quicker access to tender funds contributes considerably to an ever-increasing number of actors becoming interested in R&D activities.

I agree that the second task must be the application of an excellence-based approach, as we can use the financial resources of the Framework Programme most effectively if we select the research projects to be supported on the basis of excellence. However, we need to have a more diverse approach in the future, because new Member States do not have a research background infrastructure which would allow them to meet excellence-based criteria. Therefore we must create financing methods which promote the development of infrastructures that are lagging behind. This is how we can provide equal terms for each Member State in instances of excellence-based evaluations.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Research, development and innovation are a driving force in the area of job creation, boosting standards at universities and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. It is precisely for these reasons that research and development is one of the central elements of the 2020 strategy. As a member of the Committee on Culture and Education, I consider the funding of research and development to be extremely important. The US sets an example for the European Union in the area of research and development – and even though the US is way ahead, we all know that the EU’s aim is to narrow the gap. Unfortunately, we have not been very successful in recent years. If we want to remain competitive in today's globalised world, we must not undervalue this area. I therefore fully support the call to create a pan-European fund to promote cooperation in research, and at the same time I would like to draw attention to the importance of the objective of spending 3% of GDP on research and development.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing.(BG) The Green Paper published by the European Commission, outlining a common strategic framework for research and innovation funding, marks an important step in terms of achieving the targets for sustainable, smart and inclusive growth. I feel that the integrated approach outlined in it for using the various European programmes and funds will help make the funding of scientific and innovation projects more effective and efficient, and will increase their added value.

However, I think that additional efforts are required to ensure the broader inclusion of participants from every Member State in this process and to make the financial resources more accessible. The lack of experience with European programmes, the lack of information available in most EU languages, the complex application procedures, the execution of and reporting on projects, as well as access to cofinancing resources are some of the problems which hamper research environments and businesses from showcasing their potential, especially in the new Member States.

I also want to stress the need for a closer link between scientific research and the needs of the business sector, as well as for an improvement in the access SMEs have to scientific research and innovations. I think that this would give the maximum boost to the European economy’s competitiveness and create new jobs.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I welcome this debate and, in light of the report, I would like to mention the importance of a decision which is currently being considered by the European Commission. The purpose of the decision is to allocate EUR 4.5 billion to research and innovation in agriculture. This is a timely and welcome decision as the agri-food sector and agricultural production need support from applied research and innovation.

We have on the agenda, still this evening, the report on supporting developing countries in their efforts to address the challenges relating to food security. Research and innovation in the agricultural sector undoubtedly provide a suitable response for tackling these challenges as well.

 
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