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The future of European research funding: October update

05 October 2017

Registrations to EUA’s policy event “Excellence in research, innovation and education: The universities’ recommendations for an efficient and ambitious FP9” are now open. The event, hosted by MEP Christian Ehler, will take place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 9 November.

Indeed, EU institutions and Member States are currently addressing a series of connected issues that will shape much of the next decade for the European Union. An essential topic is the future size and composition of the EU finances for the upcoming period, both in relation to how funds are transferred to the EU level and how EU funding is subsequently put to use.

On 25 September, a major conference in Brussels brought together stakeholders around the question of the future of EU finances. The high-level event was sponsored by Commissioners Günther Oettinger (budget), Corina Creţu (regional policy), and Mariya Gabriel (digital economy). Guest speakers included Pascal Lamy and Mario Monti, who chaired high level groups devoted to maximising the impact of EU Research and Innovation programmes (sign in required) and Own Resources (sign in required), respectively. The conference was of particular importance to universities as it strongly promoted the European added value of EU-level investment in research and innovation, as Pascal Lamy highlighted again the need to double the budget allocated to the EU’s Framework Programme in the next period. Solutions to achieve this goal were proposed, in line with EUA’s earlier suggestions to go beyond ‘synergies’ between the Framework Programme and Structural Funds.

Doubling the budget of FP9, in comparison to Horizon 2020, is necessary simply to maintain the attractiveness and improve the efficiency of this EU flagship. EUA has shown that considerable amounts of tax payers’ money is wasted in the preparation of excellent, yet discarded proposals, due to lack of funds available at EU level. Increasing the budget will help address the unsustainable low success rate issue and properly exploit the pool of excellent research ideas that exist across Europe.

Universities, supported by their public authorities, can also develop strategies to increase their own success in EU research funding. A crucial issue in this respect is the professionalisation of research management, a core focus of the activities of the COST Targeted Network BESTPRAC, which held a dissemination meeting in Brussels on 19 September. BESTPRAC established a network for the administrative, finance, and legal services in universities, research organisations, and related entities supporting researchers involved in the lifecycle of transnational external competition based projects. The meeting enabled the promotion of a series of key messages supported by EUA to be made through the participation of Thomas Estermann in the panel. Professional research management is indeed key to excellent research, increased value for money in the European Research Area, and is a field that can contribute significantly to widen participation across the different European regions. As such, this type of initiative should be further supported at national and EU levels.

EUA also extended deadlines for its members to take part in its survey of new forms of EU funding and in its call for contributions “Universities for FP9”. Join us on the road to FP9!

European University Association (EUA)

Brussels office:
Avenue de l’Yser, 24
1040 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 55 44

Geneva office:
114, Rue du Rhône
Case postale 3174
1211 Geneva 3
Tel: +41 22 552 02 96