‘Excellence must underpin European Research’ says Universities UK and Europe Unit

Universities UK and the UK Higher Education Europe Unit have today launched a sector-wide position paper on the future of the European Union’s Framework Programme for Research.

The current Framework Programme (FP7) is due to end in 2013 and discussions that will shape the next Programme are well underway in the UK and across Europe. This position paper has been released ahead of the European Commission Green paper on the future of the Framework Programme, which will set the scene for the development of the next programme.

The Framework Programme is a major source of funding for UK researchers. In 2009 the UK had the highest number of successful applications for funding from the Seventh Framework Programme, with 1,923 applications awarded funding totalling nearly €527 million. UK researchers have so far been awarded a total of €1.83 billion (£1.64 billion) under the successive Framework Programmes, the majority of which benefits researchers in higher education institutions.

The position paper makes the following key proposals:

  • There is widespread support from across the UK Higher Education sector for the next Framework Programme to expand the use of excellence in the allocation of funding, so that the whole of the Framework Programme is premised on funding the best work.
  • The sector recommends that there are better synergies between programmes and more targeted use of Structural Funds to support the development of a broad-based research capacity in Europe. 
  • The sector continues to be a strong supporter of the ERC, and would like to see it afforded a significantly greater allocation of Framework Programme funding after 2013. The sector warns against changes to the basic concept of the ERC, which has been highly successful.
  • The sector calls on the Commission, in conjunction with the European Parliament, to expand the budget for the next Framework Programme, both as a proportion of the EU budget and in real cash terms.
  • The sector calls on the Commission to take steps towards a more trust-based system of regulation, in which nationally approved certification, accounting and management practices are accepted.

The European Commission intends to launch a consultation on the future of the Framework Programme at the beginning of February.

Further information on the Framework Programme is available from the Europe Unit's dedicated Framework Programme webpage http://fpmatters.europeunit.ac.uk/home

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