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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 - Strasbourg Final edition
EU research and innovative funding

European Parliament resolution of 27 September 2011 on the Green Paper: From challenges to opportunities: towards a common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding (2011/2107(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular the articles relating to research,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper ‘From Challenges to Opportunities: Towards a Common Strategic Framework for EU Research and Innovation Funding’ (COM(2011)0048),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 on the interim evaluation of the seventh EU programme for research, technological development and demonstration(1) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on innovation Union: transforming Europe for a post-crisis world(2) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes(3) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on the implementation of the synergies of research and innovation earmarked Funds in Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 concerning the European Fund of Regional Development and the Seventh Framework Programme (FP) for Research and Development in cities and regions as well as in the Member States and the Union(4) ,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee of Experts ‘Towards a world class Frontier Research Organisation – Review of the European Research Council's Structures and Mechanisms’ of 23 July 2009,

–  having regard to the report of the Group of Independent Experts ‘Mid-Term Evaluation of the Risk-Sharing Financial Facility (RSFF)’ of 31 July 2010,

–  having regard to the final report of the Expert Group ‘Interim Evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme’ of 12 November 2010,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 February 2011 entitled ‘Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Response to the Report of the Expert Group on the Interim Evaluation of the 7th Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities and to the Report of the Expert Group on the Interim Evaluation of the Risk-Sharing Finance Facility’ (COM(2011)0052),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Interim Evaluation of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research Activities (FP7), including the risk-sharing finance facility, by the 3074th EU Council meeting on competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space) of 9 March 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission's Communication of 20 April 2009 entitled ‘Moving the ICT frontiers: A strategy for research on future and emerging technologies in Europe’ (COM(2009)0184),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of 9 June 2011 on marking the centenary of the award of the Nobel Prize to Marie Skłodowska-Curie(5) ,

–  having regard to the EU 2020 flagship initiative ‘A Resource-efficient Europe’ (COM(2011)0021),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality(A7-0302/2011),

A.  whereas, on the basis of the budget review, the Commission has decided to launch a debate to improve the efficiency of research and innovation funding at regional, national and EU levels, and to handle the allocation of financial resources for EU research and innovation programmes as an EU top priority,

B.  whereas the EU has established the objective of increasing spending on R&D to 3% of EU GDP by 2020, and whereas, given that many countries are still a long way from achieving this goal, increased public and private investment in R&D is particularly important,

C.  whereas the current trends show strong pressure to freeze or even reduce the European budget associated with a period of severe constraints on national public budgets, and whereas R&D&I is one of the areas where European cooperation has been shown to have real added value in contrast to certain other budget posts, showing the need to reallocate the EU's available resources,

D.  whereas we are currently experiencing an economic, social and environmental crisis (which is affecting EU Member States in very different ways), and whereas research (in its fundamental and applied dimensions), education and innovation are crucial instruments for both economic recovery and job creation through the achievement of the EU 2020 flagship initiatives, as well as for the definition of a sustainable and inclusive growth model,

E.  whereas the EU and its Member States must provide themselves with the means to respond collectively to the major social, economic, environmental, demographic and ethical challenges facing the people of Europe, such as the ageing population, health, food supply, sustainable development, important ecological issues, etc, and whereas the solutions to these issues should provide an incentive to individuals to take more responsibility for their actions,

F.  whereas other regions and countries of the world are increasingly investing in R&D&I, and whereas EU investment in this domain should therefore be oriented towards a reinforcement of scientific capacity, encouragement of investment by industry and an improvement in overall EU competitive capacity; whereas the creation of a consistent set of support tools along the whole ‘innovation chain’ is needed, ensuring proper balance between the academically oriented research, the applied scientific research and innovation,

G.  whereas, although EU funding for R&D&I has been increasing, scientifically and technologically more developed EU Member States are still able to absorb the greatest slice of the available resources under the various Framework funding schemes and programmes (including large-scale projects), perpetuating the under-representativeness of some Member States and their regions in terms both of access to funding and of participation; whereas, in the interest of completing the European Research Area (ERA), the emergence of excellence in all parts of the Union needs to be aimed at, and whereas the Structural and Cohesion Funds are the prime instrument to achieve this,

H.  whereas there are still significant and growing inequalities within the EU in terms of national levels of R&D funding capacities, industrial structures and higher education systems, and whereas those differences are partly mirrored in overall participation in FP7; whereas balancing mechanisms should be put in place in order to enhance the research and innovation capacities of all Member States and European regions,

I.  whereas the Common Strategic Framework (CSF) should be modelled on the same general principles as the ERA, capitalising on the enormous untapped potential for coordinating the 27 different national research strategies and programmes and reducing unnecessary fragmentation,

J.  whereas the great importance of SMEs for the EU economy and employment is not mirrored in their level of participation in EU R&D&I funds; whereas the participation of SMEs in R&D&I collaborative projects should reach a level of 15% and whereas, recognising that collaborative work with industry has encouraged significant investment in R&D&I by industry, simplification and cutting red tape are a necessary condition for reaching this aim and increasing the participation of industry as a whole,

K.  whereas poverty-related and neglected diseases hamper economic development, especially in developing countries; whereas such diseases affect more than a billion people and cause millions of deaths every year,

L.  whereas over 60 % of students graduating from universities are women, but the majority of senior positions in universities (e.g. PhD posts and professorships) are still held by men,

M.  whereas since the start of the European Research Council (ERC) in 2007, 1 700 projects have been selected to receive funding from the ERC, representing some EUR 2,5 billion in grants, and almost 90 % of these grants went to male candidates,

N.  whereas a highly problematic ‘glass ceiling’ seems to exists for female researchers, meaning that the share of female researchers decreases with seniority,

O.   whereas in the educational systems of many Member States gender stereotypes still prevail in research areas such as the natural sciences(6) ;

1.  Welcomes the European Commission Green Paper defining a Common Strategic Framework (CSF) for funding in research and innovation, and considers that the new CSF core should be the articulation of the EU research programmes and funding schemes, based on the Community research and innovation policies and the Member States' research programmes; believes that the CSF should follow an integrated approach, which aims to become more attractive and easy to access for all participants;

2.  Takes the view that EU research funds and programmes and the Structural and Cohesion Funds have different aims and, as such, should be kept separate;

3.  Acknowledges the relatively low participation in FP7 of certain Member States, as well as the persistence of a research and innovation performance gap between European regions, despite the efforts made via the Structural Funds to enhance their R&D capacity; is convinced that the potential for excellence of all regions needs to be harnessed; is therefore of the opinion that new approaches are necessary to assist underperforming regions and Member States to achieve excellence and smart regional specialisation;

4.  Calls on the Commission to maximise all relevant synergies between the CSF, the Structural Funds, the European Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development and the European Fisheries Fund and to develop a multi-fund approach, while respecting their different objectives; is convinced that cohesion instruments could strengthen the development of excellence and capacity building by a better compatibility with research and innovation policies at regional level; believes that this will allow a stairway of excellence to be developed, leading these regions to fully participate in the CSF, based on quality and excellence;

5.  Suggests that this new approach could include funding of activities aimed at: modernising universities, purchase of scientific equipment, local technology transfer, support to start-ups and spin-offs, dissemination of the results of R&D&I projects, increased programme capacity for trans-national researcher training, the foundation of cutting-edge research centres, the building up of networks of excellence and clusters, or peer-reviewed trans-regional collaborative R&D and innovation activities; believes that certain Support Actions of FP7 have proved successful as bridging activities and should be preserved in the CSF;

6.  Calls on the Member States to consider funding ERC, Marie Curie or collaborative projects proposals that have met the criteria of excellence but cannot be funded owing to lack of European funds;

7.  Highlights the importance of maintaining appropriate instruments with which to support the development of the institutional capacity of the regions with regard to research and innovation policy, since the regional level is a strategic link for effectively integrating FP funding with that of the Structural Funds and also in view of their strong links to local businesses, services and research and training centres;

8.  In the light of the future gearing of cohesion policy to the Europe 2020 Strategy, calls for the ‘innovation’ priority to be binding on both Objective 1 and Objective 2 regions, and for that priority to be reflected in the funding allocated at all levels;

9.  Believes that local and regional authorities should be encouraged to innovate, notably via the continuation and strengthening of initiatives of the type ‘Regions of Knowledge’, ‘Living Labs’ and ‘Smart Cities’, in which the territorial dimension of Research and Development is fostered;

10.  Draws attention to the importance of maintaining convergence policies, and asks the Commission to build stairways to excellence for those Member States and regions that are economically and socially more vulnerable and are underrepresented in the FP, on the basis of their respective strengths and according to effective and clear criteria, aiming at substantially increasing their human capital and research capacity;

11.  Takes the view that announcing a competition for the foundation of cutting-edge research centres in disadvantaged regions is a suitable instrument for developing the European Research Area; considers that the award of aid in the form of a competition boosts dynamism and creativity, which can lead even in structurally weak regions to the successful creation of research and technology sites providing future-oriented jobs; considers that the candidates for the competition should be teams comprising one internationally recognised research institute and one disadvantaged region each, and that the scientific approaches underlying the proposals for foundations should be assessed on the principle of excellence; considers that, at the same time, the region should be required to come up with a viable overall approach constructing, for example with the help of structural funds and by creating an appropriate framework, an infrastructure amenable to research and innovation;

12.  Recommends that the Commission analyse the possibility of setting up an all-European common fund financed by the Structural Funds to promote collaborative European research;

13.  Is convinced that the credibility of the Framework Programme is based on scientific quality, and therefore considers excellence the main criterion for research funding; recalls that the nature of excellence differs with the type of participant or the very nature of the research and innovation project (the excellence criterion for a research institution is not the same as for an individual researcher or for an SME, and also differs between fundamental and applied projects); stresses that technical improvement, innovation, pilot projects and market creation should be considered important criteria for industrial and applied research, where relevant;

14.  Calls for better coordination and synergy between local and regional, national and European cross-border research and innovation strategies, respecting the specificities of the different contexts and, at the same time, reinforcing the possibilities for complementarities and cooperation between them; believes that access to and sharing of information and best practices, enhanced joint programming efforts, simple, flexible rules and instruments and, where appropriate, convergence of the latter is of key importance to increasing the effectiveness of funding, and possibly of co-funding;

15.  Is convinced that Europe has an obligation to make use of its great potential in research, technology and innovation and to contribute to solutions to the global societal challenges, namely:

   the demographic changes as an ageing society in Europe, including age related diseases and family policies, a growing world population, neglected diseases, nutrition/food security, urbanisation, mobility, social cohesion and migration,
   the transition to sustainable management of scarce resources, including water, land use and soil management, mitigation of climate change, preservation of biodiversity, marine ecosystems and forestry, renewable energies, energy efficiency and energy security, critical raw materials and other biological and physical natural resources,
   a strong, stable and equitable economic base, including economic recovery, the enhancement of education and training and of fundamental and applied knowledge in all disciplines from social sciences and humanities, through other domains such as biological and medical sciences and research for the civil security of citizens and infrastructures, to key technologies in order to boost the EU's economy and employment;
Believes that the CSF should focus on addressing those societal challenges in a comprehensive way through a balanced set of instruments covering the whole spectrum of education and training, research and innovation activities;

16.  Recalls the importance of ensuring the continuity of successful instruments between the FP and the CSF, in particular in the collaborative programmes; invites the Commission to assess in due course the effectiveness of existing instruments towards the achievement of specific policy goals and to adapt those of which the effectiveness or distinctive contribution is not clearly demonstrated;

17.  Calls for an independent audit to be carried out, for example by the European Court of Auditors together with national courts of auditors, on the effectiveness of public expenditure on research undertaken by the Member States, the EU and local authorities;

18.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen the visibility of the EU added value in research and innovation;

19.  Calls for a concerted public and private effort at European and national level to reach the European target of 3 % of GDP on R&D expenditure; calls on the EU Institutions and the Member States to agree without further delay on a specific roadmap for achieving this target;

20.  Stresses that efforts should be made to align spending within the CSF as far as possible with the overarching policy objectives under the Europe 2020 Strategy; calls for clear coordination with the new initiatives, such as the Innovation Union and other relevant Flagship Projects;

21.  Recalls that the future funding of research and innovation should serve the goal of completing the ERA by creating more synergies and better cooperation between different R&D&I policies and funding programmes among the EU, Member States, and local authorities;

Towards a new Common Strategic Framework (CSF)

22.  Underlines the fact that at the core of the CSF should be the idea that the differing nature and scale of R&D&I projects, together with the multiplicity of funding schemes, must be organised in such a way that coherence, broad representativeness, articulation, simplification and complementarity are ensured, building stairways to excellence;

23.  Notes that, in order to allow all researchers to take part in CSF projects, administrative rules covering contracting procedures should take into account the different national rules on universities and research centres; stresses in particular that the co-financing mechanism should not operate to the detriment of universities and research institutes, and that under no circumstances should universities be placed at a disadvantage compared with other actors;

24.  Calls on the Commission to set up a simple and accessible system to accelerate innovation, to invest in R&D&I projects on fighting the grand societal challenges and to have a truly holistic approach, focusing attention on the various crucial stages of the innovation and value chain (from material provider to end-user product);

25.  Is convinced that different tasks within the CSF should be tackled separately but in close articulation and partnership with each other: the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) to operate mainly as a network of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs); the innovation-related parts of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) to concentrate on its strength in supporting innovative SMEs; the next FP to embrace research as a whole; and the structural/cohesion funds to be used in closer cooperation and in a more targeted way, but kept separate; takes the view that collaborative projects should remain the backbone of the CSF;

26.  Stresses the need to enhance the flexibility of the common strategic framework, not only so that appropriations can be moved between the individual chapters and calls, but also so that the CSF is flexible enough to allow appropriations to be allocated to meet major societal challenges that arise during the budget period;

27.  Calls for a clear definition of the overall funding system and for a tighter integration of research, education and innovation; since European R&D&I policy creates European added value, and in order to reach the Europe 2020 objectives, calls for the EU research and innovation programmes' budget for the next financial period to be doubled as of 2014 (excluding the budget devoted to R&D&I within the Structural Funds and the EIB) as the appropriate response to the current economic crisis and to the great shared challenges; believes that an increased public research budget should aim at delivering wider societal benefits and improved competitiveness; reiterates the need to strengthen and develop the R&D&I-friendly role of all EU instruments, including by means of closer cooperation with the EIB and by simplifying procedures for access to funding; suggests, therefore, a new organisational model based on three different layers of funding aimed at stability and convergence:

1 st Layer: Capacity building and infrastructure

28.  This layer should cover the EU funds associated with infrastructure (in the wider sense, including the institutional one) and capacity building;

29.  The funding scheme within this layer includes the part of the FP concerned with the Capacities Programme and Marie Curie initiatives, the European funding components of research infrastructures and projects, access to loans by the EIB (covering projects over EUR 50 million and RSFF), grants associated with the abovementioned components of the FP, and cooperation with Structural Funds associated with infrastructure;

30.  Calls for the role of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) as an internal supplier of scientific and economic analyses for development policy in line with the Europe 2020 strategy to be strengthened;

31.  Stresses that in the future large-scale European investment projects (ITER, Galileo, Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) should be funded outside the FP, creating autonomous budget lines for them, in order to guarantee a transparent and reliable financing structure whilst controlling and limiting their potential for cost over-runs; suggests that they should be partially funded through the issuing of project bonds by the EIB;

32.  Highlights the pivotal role of large-scale research infrastructures for the development of the ERA and calls for the overall EU funding available for research infrastructures to be raised, especially where there is the greatest scope for European added value, for the funding to be extended after the preparatory phase and for open and excellence-based access to them to be guaranteed;

2nd Layer: Research, Potential, Collaboration and Consolidation

33.  This layer should be the space for overall research, both fundamental and applied, including the social sciences and humanities; coordination participants are mainly universities and research centres/institutes; the industrial sector, in particular SMEs, and innovative non-profit organisations should be encouraged to participate and cooperate with academia and public research centres and to act as coordinators, if appropriate; this layer represents the largest share of the FP and should be aimed at developing the strong scientific basis in both basic and applied research that is needed for innovation to spur;

34.  The key words here are originality and relevance of the idea, quality and potential for scientific excellence and added-value of projects, including high-risk research and projects concerning ‘non-technological innovation and social innovation’; the business plan and market potential are positive factors to be considered but not necessary conditions for approval;

35.  The funding scheme within this layer is covered by the EU FP grants system and cooperation with Structural Funds associated with R&D&I; synergy of these two funding sources and simplification of interactions between projects financed by the EU and external funding bodies would be beneficial; grants should primarily be aimed at public and private research institutes and innovative SMEs;

36.  Calls for a more flexible funding scheme in order to make the Cooperation theme more attractive for SMEs, whereby SMEs would be able to join collaborative projects during the projects implementation where possible, and an open budget line for this should be available for the project; believes that in this way the SME can see the opportunities more clearly since the timeframe from entering the project to market results is shortened;

37.  Recalls that the European Research Council (ERC) has proved to be successful in promoting scientific excellence and a strengthening element of the ERA; calls for further improvements to the ERA's structures and mechanisms and a boost to its instruments; stresses the need to substantially increase the proportion of the budget dedicated to grants both to young and female researchers, and to researchers from innovative SMEs (both research groups and individuals), as well to strengthen Marie Curie actions and initiatives, thus reinforcing mobility (by introducing a ‘fifth freedom’ of knowledge), career progression and collaboration between academia, public research institutes and industry, as well as access to major research infrastructures; calls on industry to become more involved in doctoral and postdoctoral research programmes; calls for the implementation of the necessary measures to guarantee decent working conditions for scientific workers in the EU, making Europe more internationally attractive to researchers, counteracting the exodus of specialists and achieving excellence in Europe;

38.  Underlines that the mobility of researchers in Europe should be given priority and calls for a strengthening of measures (such as pension portability and social security provisions, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, measures to reconcile family and work life, and research vouchers following researchers moving to another Member State) that will contribute to the mobility of European researchers, help stem the ‘brain drain’ and make the prospect of a research career in the EU more attractive; calls for the introduction of a mobility component in the ERC grants where appropriate; calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their effort to facilitate rapid mutual recognition of academic curricula;

39.  Believes there is further potential for extending the scope of the ERC concept to collaborative and multidisciplinary research projects, provided they maintain a bottom-up nature and scientific excellence is kept as the major selection criterion;

40.  Welcomes the steady progress towards a balanced participation of men and women in the Framework Programme; agrees that measures to boost female participation should be reinforced throughout project lifecycles and that the Commission should reinvigorate its approach to promoting female scientists and should aim to galvanise Member States into addressing gender gaps, with particular attention to overcoming gender-specific obstacles; underlines that the 40 % target for female participation in the Programme and Advisory Committees should be implemented; calls on the Commission to establish, together with the European Institute for Gender Equality, a Gender Action Plan with gender indicators and targets and to monitor its implementation;

41.  In line with gender mainstreaming, stresses the need for researchers at all levels to be given the opportunity to postpone the start of a grant or to suspend work on it, for reasons of maternity leave, paternity leave or parental leave, in respect of projects where this is possible, and to have the option of extending the validity of a grant agreement, for the same reasons, in respect of projects where time is not of the essence; calls on the Member States to grant researchers these options;

42.  Stresses that full implementation of the European Research Area necessitates legislative measures that enable all EU players to participate in the national programmes, with individual states' calls for tenders being opened to all and steps being taken to harmonise rules, procedures, contracts and assessment criteria;

3 rd Layer: Market and innovation towards common goals

43.  This layer should be the space for developing and fostering market uptake of innovative products and services and generation of public benefits; industry, especially innovative SMEs, plays a pivotal role here in developing novel products, services and processes;

44.  In view of the need to encourage young people to participate in research and innovation activities and support young entrepreneurs who contribute to R&D&I activities and make use of the results for their local or regional communities' economic and social development, calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue with the Erasmus programme for young entrepreneurs, also in the context of the future multiannual financing framework, and to increase the funding allocated to that programme;

45.  Recognises that particular attention should be devoted to SMEs' involvement, in order to enable the exploitation of new ideas and opportunities in a flexible and effective way as they emerge, opening new avenues for innovation; stresses that a sector-specific definition of SMEs is a prerequisite for their successful participation in the CSF; notes that the success of innovation activities depends also on the skills and experience of management staff;

46.  Underlines the need to improve SMEs' local and European access to research and innovation services; is of the opinion that successful programmes, such as Eurostars, have gained important experience in responding to the needs of innovative companies and should therefore be reinforced; calls on efforts at all levels aiming at bringing innovative solutions to specific public sector needs, by engaging small businesses in competitions for ideas that result in short-term development contracts;

47.  The funding scheme within this layer is covered by EU funding provided through the EIT, funding associated with CIP, access to credit enhancement by the EIF, specific loans from the EIB (mainly covering projects under EUR 50 million), and cooperation with the Structural Funds associated with entrepreneurship; funding of the EU's innovation policy has, however, a missing link: appropriate funding instruments that respond to the specificities of SMEs; believes that the ERA would greatly benefit from the creation, after due consideration of an impact assessment, of an EU SME Programme, conceived as a specialised branch of the EIB entirely devoted to SME innovation projects;

48.  Recalls that the European Institute of Innovation and Technology has proved to be successful and a strengthening element of the European Research Area; (Ex AM 165)stresses the need for KICs with a more narrow focus and consequently a more concentrated network with a smaller sized budget, which also enables more SME participation due to lower annual contribution costs; believes that these smaller KICs can create a single focal point in the EU as a meeting place for scientists from all over the EU in order to better compete on the global market;

49.  In order further to increase the participation of SMEs in the programmes, believes that some funding instruments and actions should be considered:

   soft loans, which are reimbursed in the event of success, excluding administrative costs;
   efforts to provide comprehensive funding for SMEs (particularly in the seed and start-up phase) that will cover the full innovation cycle, including for accessing R&D services and advice;
   the RSFF to be applied in such a way that granting of smaller funds is possible via national intermediates;
   easier access to risk and venture capital;
   greater participation of SMEs in the setting of the research agendas;

50.  Calls for new and innovative methods of financing to be tested, such as EU project bonds and vouchers for EU innovation, which would allow businesses to spend those resources directly at accredited research centres; such vouchers should not be subject to cost reporting because their use would be certified by the centres where the vouchers are spent; the accreditation centres could be set up on a national or regional basis and validated by a European body such as, for example, the JRC; takes the view that the JRC's contribution to innovation under the Framework Programme should include enhanced cooperation with industry;

51.  Welcomes the EU Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme whose purpose is to identify technology-oriented public sector challenges and fund R&D projects in order to develop new solutions to both old and emerging problems;

o   o

52.  Takes the view that not all innovation is research-based and that not all research has innovation as its goal; believes in consequence that the proposed reorganisation should cover the full spectrum of activities related to innovation, from concept to market, including non-technological, eco- and social innovation; believes that this should include the promotion of innovative practices (such as innovative and pre-commercial public procurement, inducement prizes, IPR policies and lead market initiatives) and the facilitation of their widespread dissemination; recalls that standardisation should be taken into account in addressing grand challenges and shaping priority areas of CSF, but should not be a new separate instrument or activity;

53.  Notes the success of the CIP so far and highlights the vital importance of continuing and further expanding the programme, particularly in order to strengthen innovative SMEs as the driver of the European economy;

54.  Stresses, however, that some of the CIP instruments could become the natural extension of the future framework programme, providing continuity for European research and innovation projects; takes the view that the technology developed under framework programme projects could be extended to innovative projects:

   disseminating their use in various industrial and service sectors,
   launching further additional applications in related or complementary fields;

55.  Recalls that the very competitive nature of research, scientific, technological and innovation work and the maintenance of local scientific and innovative capacity building depend on the existence of some level of duplication and fragmentation, without which collaborative research would be undermined;

56.  Underlines that in order to more effectively attract private investment and to ensure that research and development most effectively contribute to enhancing European competitiveness, appropriate measures should be taken in the Framework programme to establish a strong, efficient regulatory framework for the protection of intellectual property rights at an early stage in the research process;

57.  Strongly encourages the implementation of training programmes for all potential participants, particularly on the application of management rules, and calls on the Commission to develop criteria for the selection, evaluation and assessment of training projects, bearing in mind inter alia the stairways to excellence; urges the Commission to take a proactive approach to help public bodies, especially those established in under-represented Member States, to improve their management system by carrying out assessments and to issue recommendations for these bodies to improve their funding applications and project management;

58.  Reiterates that simplification of the management of European research funding requires a quantum leap; believes that a key element in simplification is to shift from the current control-based to a more trust-based and risk-tolerant approach, which is of particular benefit for SMEs; calls for the implementation of all identified simplification measures in the new CSF, including an increased margin of tolerable risk of error, a broad acceptance of usual accounting practices, the use of lump sums and flat rates (on a voluntary basis), simplification of the application and contractual procedures and of the rules on pre-financing and the eligibility of costs, a significant reduction of the financial and scientific reporting requirements, shortening of the time-to-contract to maximum 6 months and a significant reduction of the time-to-grant and time-to-pay, and more flexibility for participants in how they organise and manage their projects and choose their partners;

59.  Is convinced that simplification should lead to a reduction in the combination of funding rates and indirect costs calculation methods across financing schemes without, however, abolishing the differentiation applying for universities, research organisations and industry;

60.  Recommends defining a limited set of common (administrative, financial and organisational) rules and principles that are easy to interpret and that would apply to all EU R&D&I programmes and instruments;

61.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make access to European research programmes easier, for example by setting up a single contact point, establishing a principle of ‘one project, one document’ and setting up a forum for exchange of good practice; in this respect, reiterates the need for an easily accessible single entry point to advice and financial support for potential participants; criticises the current lack of transparency and information on upcoming calls for proposals for research projects, which results in researchers and institutes being unable to properly prepare themselves and therefore impedes their participation;

62.  Points out that a coherent policy towards creating a European knowledge-based society implies strengthening the links between education, research and innovation; emphasises that the CSF should address and integrate the entire knowledge chain via, for example, infrastructure development, standardisation, training programmes and measures to support key technologies; encourages all collaboration between universities, businesses and research institutes and believes that skills and technology transfer is a vital component; asks for practical instruments to be provided to foster the transfer of technology from research to industrial application, both in services and in the manufacturing sectors;

63.  Calls for stronger intergovernmental participation under the Joint Programming Measures, which would strengthen cooperation in research, development and innovation throughout Europe;

64.  Pointing out the importance of Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) and European Technology Platforms (ETPs), recommends offering a specific common framework for all PPPs with clear, simplified common conditions, clearly separating the role of the private sector and the public sector; stresses the need to take effective measures to improve transparency and open access to such instruments by SMEs and the public research sector; invites the Commission to carry out an in-depth analysis of the state of the art, impact and relevance of the currently running different formats of PPPs before consolidating or supporting the establishment of additional ones, in order to improve their governance to ensure better involvement of a greater variety of stakeholders both in setting the research agenda and ensuring access to newcomers; is also convinced that those instruments should be clearly driven by public priority objectives (valuing societal and sustainability results) and be leveraging real private investments;

65.  Stresses that the CSF should be an attractive funding mechanism for both private and public sector actors (including also NGOs and CSOs); believes that all participants in high impact R&D&I projects and ETPs should play a role in the priority-setting discussion and have access to research infrastructures;

Some guidelines for the next Framework Programme

66.  Favours moving towards a ‘science-based’ approach and calls for a trust-based attitude towards researchers and a more risk-tolerant attitude towards participants at all stages of the funding system, including science valorisation and innovation; asks for an appropriate funding model for academic research in the next FP;

67.  Believes that the CSF should not be limited to focusing on research-driven or technology-based innovation alone, but that it should support different sources of innovation; points out that many companies – especially SMEs – use other sources of innovation such as clients, markets, users and, not least, employees, and that this form of innovation is often of a more practical nature and is focused on solving specific problematic issues related to processes, services or products, since the proposed solutions are often found by the employees that are closest to the production process, markets and clients; believes, therefore, that the EU should strengthen practice-oriented, employee-driven innovation;

68.  Urges the Commission to ensure that overhead costs under HORIZON 2020 are revised; asks the Commission, therefore, to analyse what percentage the overhead costs represent in FP7 and to come forward with proposals to keep it as low as possible;

69.  Calls for collaborative research (the current Cooperation Programme) to be kept at the heart of the FP, reinforcing synergies to increase and accelerate the impact and dissemination of research projects performed in cooperation with partners of excellent global standing, both from within and from outside the EU; believes that funding of collaborative research should have greater thematic flexibility (broader calls) and user-friendly funding arrangements in order to attract outstanding scientists and to respond to the needs of both large consortia and smaller groups; believes that the whole innovation chain from exploratory research to large scale pilot projects and demonstrations should be covered, with dedicated ring-fenced budgets to sectors which have developed a strategic vision in order to address societal challenges with long-term investment cycles, where appropriate;

70.  Voices its scepticism about the effectiveness of utilising the funds for creating research networks of excellence and organising conferences and events and calls for a strengthening of electronic networking measures for research and innovation and the dissemination of research results via the Internet;

71.  Expresses its scepticism about whether it is often possible to finance a single proposal per call, resulting in a waste of the resources invested in their preparation and evaluation and the non-funding of excellent ideas; calls on the Commission to investigate the possibility of funding excellent, non-selected proposals, through an additional research budget (matching research funds) which will also involve Member States and regional and structural funds;

72.  Calls for consolidation of multi- and transdisciplinary research and recognition of the social dimension of research; in this context, recalls that grand societal challenges should be dealt with – apart from technological responses – by means of European research in social sciences and humanities and social innovation, which remain a pivotal asset in successfully addressing those challenges; believes therefore that both an independent subject area covering ‘social and economic sciences and the humanities’, and inclusion of it as an increased component in all agenda-driven actions should be secured in the CSF;

73.  In order further to attract the interest and involvement of citizens and civil society in research, calls for the continuation of the Science in Society theme as a stand-alone and for its horizontal expansion to cover the great societal challenges; in addition, believes that the Commission should support further development and wider dissemination of guidelines on ethics, and the further development of instruments designed for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs);

74.  Calls for research priorities and objectives to be set in a more transparent and participatory way, through the balanced involvement of players, including the scientific community, researchers (also from smaller research organisations), the public sector, CSO organisations and SMEs; calls for the creation of a specific platform for dialogue between CSOs and researchers for discussing research priorities areas in specific sectors; believes that specific platforms for closer interaction of SMEs and researchers should also be promoted;

75.  Believes that not only economic, but also societal, ethical and sustainability assessment and evaluation of the specific research programmes is an important process that must be improved and more widely promoted, at both European and Member State level; supports the Commission's initiatives in this field, such as the development of Responsible Research and Innovation principles, and encourages their further promotion and uptake;

76.  Calls for a balance to be kept between bottom-up (such as the current FET-open scheme) and top-down projects (‘grand societal challenges’), as well as for smaller bottom-up projects and bottom-up collaborative research to be facilitated; takes the view that lower entry barriers for collaborative projects would lead to a reinforcement of scientific capacity; believes that strategic priorities must be combined with emerging problems; asks the Commission to study the balance between bottom-up and top-down projects and to consider it both from a social and a financial point of view; stresses the need to consult and work together with researchers, industry and civil society actors, in order to set the research agendas;

77.  Is in favour of small and medium-sized projects forming the focus of future research funding; believes that small and medium-sized projects are easier and less costly for universities and SMEs to manage; and that they will also enable to increase the hitherto unsatisfactory success rates of applications;

78.  Believes that, when certain societal needs are not being met by our present innovation models, new public licensing schemes and innovation inducement prizes can be used to focus research in these areas and to assure the efficacy of public expenditure; calls on the Commission to launch as soon as possible a pilot initiative for inducement prizes in the medical sector;

79.  Calls for coherent coverage of the full R&D&I chain though the implementation of transparency rules and clear coordination between the different Commission DGs dealing with research and innovation funding;

80.  Calls for an intensification of international cooperation, where appropriate, with the strategic partners of the European Union, including fast growing countries such as the BRICS countries, on a reciprocal basis, in order to better tackle global challenges; recalls that participation of third-country researchers would be encouraged by more simplified procedures and significantly shorter lead times for applications; stresses the need for a stronger scientific capacity building in neighbouring countries, based on a better coordination of the Common Strategic Framework with EU neighbourhood policy instruments; believes that effective reinforcement of capacity building and the establishment of fair and comprehensive partnerships with developing countries is crucial to boosting their sustainable development;

81.  Considers that cooperation with third countries in the domain of research with possible dual use should be avoided with any country that does not respect human rights, UN resolutions and international law;

o   o

82.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0256.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0236.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0401.
(4) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 104.
(5) B7-0343/2011.
(6) See European Parliament resolution of 21 May 2008 on women and science, paragraph 2 (OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 40).

Last updated: 7 January 2013Legal notice