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IP/08/1142

Brussels, 16 July 2008

Commission proposes a legal framework for European Research Infrastructures

The European Commission today proposed a legal framework that will make it easier to set up European Research Infrastructures, such as observatories for environmental sciences, data banks in genomics or state of the art large super computers. The proposal was made in response to requests from Member States, who wish to jointly develop world-class research facilities in Europe.

Unveiling the proposal, European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "Research infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex and expensive, often placing them beyond the reach of a single research group, region, nation or even continent. The sheer size of such projects, generally hundreds of millions of Euros for construction and several tens of millions of Euros for operation, requires a joint effort by several European countries."

Until now, the absence of an adequate legal framework allowing the creation of appropriate partnership with partners from different countries has been a major difficulty for Member States. Existing legal forms under national, EU or international law do not fully correspond to the specific characteristics and needs of such multinational infrastructures. This new tailor-made legal framework would provide a legal personality recognised in all Member States and could provide some of the advantages of international organisations, such as VAT exemptions.

It also offers the opportunity to cut down significantly the time necessary for setting up such European Research Infrastructures, allowing them to become operational as soon as possible, which is important in the quickly evolving world of science.

It is foreseen that the legal framework would be discussed by the EU Council of Ministers during autumn and possibly adopted in December 2008. Following the development of related implementation procedures, the legal framework could become effective in mid 2009.

Background
The Communication is one of five policy initiatives planned by the Commission to follow up the 2007 Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives". A number of key areas were identified where effective action in partnerships between Member States could have the potential to deliver significant gains for Europe's research system and help to create a "fifth freedom" in Europe - the free movement of knowledge. In this context, "Developing world class research infrastructures" is put forward as one of the pillars of an ambitious ERA vision.

Details of all of the above are available in MEMO/08/504

Link to the full text of the Regulation:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/press/2008/pdf/com_2008_467_en.pdf

See also IP's related to the European Research Area package:

IP/08/637 on the results of the Green Paper on ERA

IP/08/555 on Intellectual property management by Public Research Organisations

IP/08/802 on European Partnership for Researchers

IP/08/1140 on Joint Programming


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