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IP/09/1570

Brussels, 22 October 2009

Commission takes steps to ensure European Research Council's long term success

The European Commission has decided today on a course of action to secure a sustainable future for the European Research Council (ERC) as a world-class funding organisation supporting leading-edge frontier research. In response to an independent review of the ERC operations and in the light of its own experience, the Commission will streamline the ERC's organisation and governance, and enhance the efficiency of its operations. It will recruit a distinguished scientist with robust administrative experience to lead the ERC Executive Agency. The Commission also announces it will engage into a broader debate with the European Parliament and the Council on adapting the regulatory framework for Research and Technological development to the specific requirements of scientific activities. The Commission is committed to build a financial and administrative framework that will best serve the policies aimed at boosting new sources of sustainable growth.

"Two and a half years after its start, the ERC is regarded widely as a success and an influential component of the European Research Area. We are now announcing steps to help the ERC shift from its pioneering to its mature phase. Our actions and those under the responsibility of the Scientific Council will further improve the ERC's performance and guarantee its long term stability", European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik said. " But our ambition goes further. The building of the ERC has been an instructive experience. It will allow us to feed the debate on the Community's rules for supporting research and innovation, so that Europe can make the most out of these new sources of growth. The ERC is only one expression of the EU's ambition for a Europe of knowledge and excellence. "

After a successful start, and with the ERC Executive Agency gaining full autonomy on 15 July 2009, an independent review of the ERC structures and mechanisms concluded that, to assure its sustainability, maximise its efficiency and develop it into a world-class frontier research organisation, the scientific and administrative governance must be unified and adjustments made in its operating methods and procedures.

The course of action set out by the Commission today provides a roadmap for the next stage of the ERC's development. It includes measures to be taken in the short term and within the current financial and administrative framework; and identify medium term actions that may require modifications of the rules managing EU R&D funding, including specific features of ERC-funded frontier research.

The Commission will implement a two-fold strategy:

  • I n the short term, recruiting a Director for the ERC executive agency with the profile of a distinguished scientist with strong administrative and managerial experience in order to better combine the scientific and administrative aspects of ERC's governance; streamlining and simplifying administrative procedures; and ensuring, together with the Scientific Council, that the ERC's operations are conducted in full transparency and with the highest degree of professionalism.

  • I n the medium term, engaging the European Parliament and the Council on a broader and substantial reflection on the financial and administrative rules for supporting research and innovation. The aim will be to define the most appropriate rules and regulations for research and innovation funding instruments, such as the ERC, striking a balance between risks inherent to research activities and an efficient and sound use of EU funds.

Background

Creating the ERC was a pioneering step for the European Union. For the first time, a Community research programme , financed by the 7 th Framework Programme, is operating on the basis of open European competition between individual research teams, independent scientific governance, and autonomous execution via an executive agency.

See also MEMO/09/476 : Q&A

Further information

Full text of the Communication in response to the recommendations put f orward by the ERC Review Panel:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/archive/other_reports_studies_and_documents/commission_communication_on_the_erc_review_-_22_october_2009.pdf

Review panel's report:

http://ec.europa.eu/research/evaluations/pdf/archive/other_reports_studies_and_documents/erc_review_panel_report_-_23_july_2009.pdf

ERC review webpage:

http://erc.europa.eu/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.display&topicID=158

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

COM/2008/0526 final

COMM/2008/473 final

Related press releases:

  • The European Commission welcomes the review of European Research Council structures and mechanisms: IP/09/1184

  • Leading experts to carry out the European Research Council review: IP/09/307


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