The European Commission has called on national governments to follow its lead and simplify the distribution of EU funds in 2014-20.
In a communication called “A simplification agenda for the [Multi-annual Financial Framework] 2014-2020”, the Commission presented its plans across all services to lighten the administrative load on recipients of EU funding. But it insists that member states have to do their part.
“Simplification efforts at the EU level will not be fully effective, unless they are accompanied by parallel efforts at the national and sub-national [level], particularly for policy areas covered by shared management, which account for the larger share of the EU budget,” the Commission states.
This could include, for example, Structural Funds spent on research and innovation. These funds are managed by regional and national authorities, which could do more to make access to this money simpler, the Commission says.
The Commission says research is one of the areas where EU programmes have already become simpler over time.
“For example in Framework 7, dedicated simplification measures were introduced in 2011 and the time to grant has fallen by nearly 30 days,” the Commission states. Under the successor programme Horizon 2020, the Commission aims to reduce the average time to pay out a grant from 350 to 250 days.
The Commission strategy to simplify its rules include reducing the number of policy priorities and bringing together different programmes, as it did when gathering together the Framework Programme, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. This is called the Common Strategic Framework for research and innovation, and there are several such programmes the Commission has created to make funding simpler.