Brussels, 29 May 2009
A step ahead for research: Commission welcomes the Council's agreement of a legal framework for European research infrastructures
The European Commission has welcomed the agreement reached today, by the Council, on its proposal for a regulation for a community legal framework for European Research Infrastructures consortium (ERIC). The regulation will make it easier to set up European Research Infrastructures, such as cutting edge installations to test technologies for carbon dioxide capture and storage, 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 and were missing a common and ready-to-use legal vehicle. This tailor-made legal framework defines the criteria for a research infrastructure to qualify as an ERIC and their governing rules. Recognised European research infrastructures will be granted the status of international organisations, and the related advantages such as VAT exemption.
Welcoming this agreement , EU Commissioner for science and research Janez Potočnik stated: " The Council's agreement is excellent news for EU research and for the EU economy. Investing today in the construction of large-scale research infrastructures can certainly contribute to the EU economic recovery and will surely reinforce our competitiveness when we get out of the recession. It will help to create jobs, economic activities, and help produce the cutting-edge scientific knowledge which will be the new engine for EU's growth and competitiveness".
The next generation of major European Research Infrastructures needs a new legal and governance structure if they are to be built quickly and operate efficiently. The European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has established a list of 44 priority infrastructures that would put Europe ahead in several areas of physical, energy, biological, medical, social and ICT sciences. Until now, the absence of an adequate legal framework for partners from different countries has been a major difficulty for Member States. Negotiations regarding terms and conditions under existing legal forms under national, EU or international law have led to frustrating delays in multinational infrastructures.
In July 2008, the European Commission responded to these concerns by presenting its proposal for a Council Regulation on the Community legal framework for a European Research Infrastructure consortium. Member States interested in establishing research infrastructures with the status of ERIC would submit an application to the Commission, including a declaration from the host Member States that it recognised the ERIC as an international organisation. The European Commission will ensure eligibility, registration and compliance of European Research Infrastructures using the Regulation.