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Brussels, 23 July 2009

The European Commission welcomes the review of European Research Council structures and mechanisms

EU Commissioner Janez Poto čnik today received the report on the review of the European Research Council's (ERC) structures and mechanisms from the review panel's chair Professor Vaira Vike-Freiberga. This report represents a thorough scrutiny of the ERC structures, conducted by a high-level independent panel of experts. The Commission will respond to the report's recommendations and present its proposals on the future of the ERC by October 2009. The report emphasises the considerable achievements of the ERC and its critical role in the European Research Area, and highlights the need to take measures to ensure the sustainability of its initial success.

The conclusions of the high-level expert review panel's thorough review of the ERC, presented in this final report, come after more than five months work, during which the panel consulted representative research organisations and stakeholders in Europe.

European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "I would like to thank the review panel for its energy, diligence and integrity in carrying out this demanding task. The review is a crucial step to ensure the continued success of the ERC, a flagship of the EU's seventh research Framework programme. Although the ERC already can be described as a leader in frontier research funding in Europe, our ambitions must not stop here. The panel's findings will help us to set the direction of our future work to make the ERC a mature and fully effective part of Europe's research system."

Panel chair Prof. Vaira Vike-Freiberga , former President of Latvia, said: "The review panel is honoured to have been trusted with the important task of analysing the ERC's structures and mechanisms. We have carefully examined the ERC’s current operations and consulted key stakeholders. The ERC is of evolving strategic importance to Europe and is already having a substantial positive impact on the European research scene. The sustainability of this success and the aim of building the ERC into a world class agency depend, however, on adjustments to the operating philosophy and a constancy of the vision that led to its establishment in the first place. Improvements to the ERC structure are needed to integrate scientific and administrative aspects of governance and to streamline and simplify procedures. We hope that the Commission will act on our recommendations swiftly, as the ERC presents a novel and essential instrument for European research."   

Note to editors

The European Research Council was set up under the seventh Framework programme's “Ideas” specific programme with an independent Scientific Council and a dedicated implementation structure, to be established in the form of an Executive Agency. This Executive Agency gained administrative autonomy on 15 July 2009.

At the same time as the European Research Council was set up it was agreed that, in the context of the mid-term evaluation of the seventh Framework programme, an independent review of the ERC’s structures and mechanisms would be carried out.

The independent ERC review panel, established by the European Commission, is composed of six eminent experts with an experience in research policy and management at the highest national, European and international level.

The panel is chaired by Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President of Latvia (1999-2007) and former Professor of Psychology at the University of Montreal. The other members are:

Lord (David) Sainsbury (Vice-Chair), Former Under Secretary of State at UK Department of Trade and Industry with responsibility for Science & Innovation; Head of Gatsby Charitable Foundation;

Yves Mény (Rapporteur), President of the European University Institute, Florence;

Fiorella Kostoris Padoa Schioppa, Professor of Economics at "La Sapienza", Rome; former President of ISAE (Istituto di Studi e Analisi Economica), Rome;

Lars-Hendrik Röller, President of European School of Management and Technology, Berlin; Professor of Economics, Humboldt University, Berlin;

Elias Zerhouni, Former Director of National Institutes of Health, USA (until Oct 2008); previous executive Vice-dean of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA.

Further information

Review panel's report:

E RC review webpage:

Related press release: Leading experts to carry out the European Research Council review:


Full text of the Communication setting up the ERC panel review:

COM/2008/0526 final

COMM/2008/473 final

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