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Parliament backs common framework for EU research and innovation

The European Parliament agreed its position on the Commission's Green Paper about the common strategic framework for EU research and innovation funding on 27 September.

Members propose a doubling of the budget for research and innovation for the period from 2014 to 2010 and new approaches to increase the participation of SMEs and of some Member States and those regions currently underrepresented in research and innovation programmes.

“Research, innovation and development are not a minor area; we are talking about the third largest layer of the European budget, beyond agriculture and cohesion. It’s a key area for economic growth that creates jobs and in particular quality jobs”, said Marisa Matias, the Portuguese MEP who is rapporteur on the issue in the plenary debate.

MEPs approved the changes proposed by the European Commission, to be introduced in the post-2013 EU budget, which will bring together the current research framework programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology within a common strategic framework.

However, EU research funds and programmes and the Structural and Cohesion funds have different aims and, as such, should be kept separate, they said.

MEPs agreed that in order to reach the Europe 2020 objectives and form the appropriate response to the current economic crisis, EU research and innovation funding for the next financial period should be doubled as of 2014 (excluding the financing within the Structural Funds and the European Investment Bank). Public and private expenditure on research and development should also make an effort reach the target of 3 per cent of GDP at European and national level.

MEPs have also agreed that future, large-scale European investment projects, such as ITER, Galileo and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security should be funded outside the Research Framework Programme.

This should guarantee a transparent and reliable financing structure whilst limiting their potential for cost over-runs. They should also be partially funded through the issuing of project bonds by the European Investment Bank.

The proposals also address the issue of fairness in research funding. While EU funding for R&D has been increasing, scientifically and technologically more developed EU Member States still take the greatest slice of resources, perpetuating the under-representativeness of some Member States and their regions, both in terms of funding and of participation.

MEPs are calling for new approaches to assist underperforming regions and Member States. This new approach could include, for example activities aimed at modernising universities, purchasing scientific equipment, transferring technology, supporting start-ups and spin-offs and building-up networks of excellence and clusters.