New Perspectives The European Research Area

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					                   Position of the
  Association of German Chambers of Industry and
                  Commerce (DIHT)

                  the Commission’s report on

    the creation of a “European Research Area”:
Guidelines for Union measures in the field of research
        KOM(2000) 612 in the final version dated 4.10.2000

                         December 2000



New Perspectives – The European Research Area        2

Main points and goals                                3
  1. Goals                                           3
  2. Three dimensions for consideration              7

Selection criteria and priorities                    8
  1. Criteria                                        8
  2. Priorities                                      8

Instruments and procedures                           9
   1. Research activities                           10
   2. Research and innovation, start-ups and SMEs   11
   3. Research infrastructure                       12
   4. Human resources                               12
   5. Science, society and the citizen              13

Funding the changes                                 13

The next steps                                      15

                                NEW PERSPECTIVES

According to the Commission’s report, the idea of a “European Research Area” or
ERA has, in the main, been positively received by the member states and industry.
Since then it has become clear, however, that the German government together with
the business and science community will firstly concentrate their efforts on preparing
for the 6th Framework Programme before attending to the creation of the ERA. Hence
two different time frames have emerged. The DIHT already made its position known
on the ERA in February 2000 and continues to welcome the fact that the initiative
launched by Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin has stimulated broad
discussion on the type of resources and funding that ought to be used to strengthen
and improve the organisation of European research. At the same time the DIHT has
adopted a differentiated approach to the initiative and, in matters of detail, sometimes
departed from the priorities set for certain measures. The following general points
should be noted:

   With regard to other documents of the Commission, ongoing initiatives and
    measures that have already been introduced, the report exhibits a great deal of
    redundancy. One begins to wonder which considerations can really be described
    as new or appear particularly relevant in terms of reaching the objectives
    described. As the DIHT sees it, the priorities have already been set out in its
    position paper of February 2000 (e.g. exploitation of the potential residing in
    electronic networks, protection of intellectual property, awakening the interest of
    young people in the research sector, upgrading the contribution of the regions).
   Not all of the proposed measures are directly relevant to the needs of industry.
    The report opens up options for autonomous business action to an even
    lesser extent. Although industry acts as the principal player and motor for EU
    research, the report fails to mention any means by which companies themselves
    can launch and discuss their own initiatives, and hence contribute through their
    own actions to the further development of a European Research Area.
   All of the relevant documents submitted by the Commission appear to proceed on
    the rosy assumption that everything is fine with regard to RTD in other trading
    countries and Europe can best improve itself by imitating systems and
    procedures from elsewhere. We need to bury the notion that here in Europe we
    should try and establish a similar kind of research system to the one we see in the
    USA. On closer observation, a comparison in terms of cohesion and coordination
    with other systems of alliances such as NAFTA soon reveals a picture of
    development, especially in the field of RTD, to which the EU has little need to

The DIHT agrees that the first requirements are for initiatives to be launched above
all in the legal and regulatory field, in particular the passing of measures to remove
obstacles which prevent the mobility and free transfer of scientists, science and
technologies throughout Europe in a variety of fields: scientific careers, social
security systems, regulations on intellectual property rights and measures regarding
the transfer of knowledge and distribution of results.

The fact that until now the Framework Programmes have constituted an additional
element alongside the 15 national research programmes conducted independently of
each other is of itself an insufficient argument for wanting national programmes to
open up multilaterally or research activities to be centrally coordinated and controlled
by the Commission. As a general rule, the bottom line remains: “He who pays the
piper calls the tune”. That is not to say there is necessarily anything wrong in
pleading for more tightly structured approaches at EU level or the highest possible
degree of complementarity between measures of the Union and those of member
states. Yet the Commission must be more specific about its proposals for new
instruments and procedures “aimed at helping to overcome structural deficiencies in
European research”. In doing so it should under no circumstances allow itself to be
guided by the principle of acquiring the greatest possible powers of control for the
least possible amount of Community funding.

Research has a significant part to play in the process of innovation. Other key
elements involved in the same process include financial, market-related, legal and
cultural factors. Adopting a holistic approach to the whole of the innovation process
from the original idea to the marketing of innovative products is dependent on a wider
deployment of the Structural Fund. On the whole, the DIHT continues to regard the
more challenging goal of the creation of a “European Area of Innovation” as a more
worthwhile objective than that of a mere “Research Area”. It is also no coincidence
that the conclusions of Lisbon were directed at “Establishing a European Area of
Research and Innovation”.

                             MAIN POINTS AND GOALS

It is important not to lose sight of the goals set out in the Treaty:
 to strengthen the scientific and technological foundations of industry in the
 to promote international competitiveness of industry, and
 to support all research measures required due to other Union policies.
Here, even though the term “industry” is used, politicians are nonetheless called upon
to include the “economy” as a whole in their considerations, to ensure they do not
ignore any areas of the economy, including service providers, that are dependent on


– Research activities:
Although the Commission constantly strives to network and coordinate the running of
national programmes, this actually lies within the remit of the member states. Under
no circumstances should the Commission see itself as a superordinate bureaucratic
instance in this field. Equally, the purposeful networking of top research centres and
structures in the public and private sectors is a goal dependent on their ability to act
autonomously at a level far below that of the member states. The Commission can
and should provide incentives for networking. The implementation of “targeted large-
scale research projects, above all in the field of industrial research” is already an

established fact in the aerospace industry and did not require the efforts of the
Commission to tie it into a research framework programme. The same model should
also become the norm in other areas of technology. Here, the underlying issue is not
so much the control of structures as the need for performance incentives to enable
intensive, long-term partnerships to develop within larger European “missions”.

The DIHT supports the Commission in its view that the measures of the Union in their
present form have to all extents and purposes reached the limits of what they can
hope to achieve. But this is largely due to the kind of management structures that
have been put in place. Consequently, the Framework Programme itself should not
deviate from its original objectives, but change the way it intends to realise these

DIHT recommendations:

   Extensive retention of the Framework Programme structure, especially with
    regard to thematic programmes and key actions
   Avoidance of ruptures in funding mechanisms, application and evaluation
   Programmes to be extended to cover larger integrated schemes at European
    level dealing with research and framework conditions in equal measure; N.B. the
    management of such programmes to be organised along private sector lines and
    capable of handling private sector issues
   Simplification of implementation procedures
   Improvement of coordination mechanisms within the Commission; merging of all
    relevant departments into a “DG Research and Innovation”
   Provision of a contingency fund for unforeseen but urgent research requirements
    (cf. BSE crisis)

– Research and innovation, start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises
As well as grant support schemes directed at specific issues, earlier Framework
Programmes also used to contain measures for funding innovation and SMEs.
However, these were insufficient and poorly targeted.

The integral components of the ERA and the 6th RTD Framework Programme should
continue to comprise the further development of technological capacities for
innovation within the Union, particularly by funding research for and within SMEs,
funding the distribution, transfer and adoption of know-how and technologies, the
exploitation of research findings and the start-up of technological businesses. In this
instance although the position held by the DIHT in December 1999 remains
unchanged it is difficult to avoid the impression that SME/RTD funding is little more
than a fig leaf for the European Commission, the European Parliament and the
Council of Ministers. It would be a simple act of honesty to declare this openly as
such. SME-specific measures should be abandoned as a horizontal programme and
the special funding system for SME research needs to be transferred to the remit of
national governments.

The Commission’s assessment report1 talks of great contentment among the SMEs.
This stands in stark contrast to the reality of the complaints the latter bring constantly
to the attention of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, as well as other lobbies. In
the aforementioned assessment report attention is focussed pivotally on the plight of
the small and micro-sized “problem group” of enterprises with negligible in-house
R&D capacities, i.e. companies for which industrial cooperative research
organizations claim to have already discovered the secret to solving their problems.
The extent to which projects envisaged by research bodies actually meet the
business goals of SMEs or divert the latter from achieving their most vital objectives
remained outside the scope of investigation, just as the delicate issue of who is
taking whom for a ride and to what effect was also tacitly avoided. And yet such
issues need to be raised if there is to be any rational discussion of the purpose and
raison d’être of SME-specific RTD measures at EU level.

178 bids for CRAFT projects had been submitted by the assessment date in
September 2000. Excluding the 13 “invalid” bids, this means than an average of just
11 bids were received from each member state. The number of schemes that were
finally approved and yielded average success rates was even lower. This is hardly
sustainable given the range of infrastructure and advisory services set up and funded
for this purpose by the Commission, with parallel funding also coming from the
member states. Here, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that funding directed at
supporting SMEs is being channelled at completely disproportionate and
unacceptably high levels simply to encourage the growth of infrastructure, rather than
being used for research purposes as originally intended.

Typically enough, the chapter headed “Selection criteria and priorities” has next to
nothing to say about the real concerns of SMEs. Obviously the Commission
continues to assume that SMEs can be palmed off with a package of small-scale
special measures. For its part, the DIHT believes it would be far more sensible to
step up the involvement of SMEs in the value-added chain of ambitious projects (also
in the role of suppliers).

The fact remains that the SME-specific measures do not do justice to aspects
purportedly bringing “European added-value”:
– the costs and scope of research exceed the resources of any one individual
   country and the need to create a “critical mass” of financial and human resources;
– the economic importance of cooperation and collaboration (economies of scale)
   due to their beneficial effect on private sector research and the ability of industry
   to remain competitive;
– the connection between the priorities and interests of the Union, legal regulations
   and policies of the Community, especially in the fields of enterprises, agriculture,
   the information society, the environment, energy, transport, health and consumer
   protection, employment and social issues, education, the rule of law, internal
   affairs, foreign affairs, commerce and development;
– the necessarily transnational character of research caused by the enormity of the
   issues at stake (e.g. the environment) or because of the nature of the scientific
   work itself (comparative studies, epidemiology).

    Five-Year Assessment in the field of Promotion of Innovation and encouragement of SME

In addition, and despite repeated attempts to improve the situation, we have a maze
of bidding procedures and top-heavy administrative outlay that make a mockery of an
efficient system of SME funding.

DIHT recommendations:

   scrapping of a horizontal approach to SME measures
   integration of measures to “promote innovation and include SMEs” in thematic
    programmes as well as large-scale research projects
   greater inclusion of SMEs in thematic programmes and ambitious projects while
    maintaining the exploratory awards system
   raising of the target threshold set by the Commission during FP 5 for SME
    participation from 10% to 20%, namely for more ambitious projects resulting from
    thematic programmes and guiding activities
   simplified bidding and assessment procedures (including permanently open
    tenders) for SMEs within the thematic programmes, especially if the latter wish to
    join consortia in a subsequent project phase or as sub-contractors
   transfer of SME-specific measures without any perceptible European added-value
    (e.g. CRAFT) to the remit of national governments
   concomitant streamlining of advisory structures and their general return to the
    remit of the member states

– Research infrastructure:
European research infrastructure needs to undergo further development with regard
to the way it is accessed, run and implemented, not least because it is in the interest
of industry and the economy for it to do so. Businesses need to be included right at
the very start whenever networks of competence receiving temporary start-up funding
are established. But in particular, “electronic high-performance research networks”
must not be allowed to serve as scientific ends in themselves or as venues of ivory-
tower communication.

DIHT recommendations:

   Long-term partnerships between business, science (including non-university led
    science) and the Commission should be developed along the lines of the
    Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRC) in the USA. Five-
    year grants should be awarded. Under certain circumstances these could be
    extended for a further five years to enable the centres to grow and their industrial
    memberships to diversify. After 10 years such centres should be completely able
    to stand on their own two feet through income generated from their partners in
    industry and other grant-awarding bodies. A limited maximum funding period
    would allow financial resources to be freed up for establishing new centres.

– Human resources:
Greater transnational mobility of European human resources in the fields of science,
technology and innovation is absolutely vital if there is to be any real support for the
knowledge-based economy. Thinking in “closed user groups” turns out to be
counterproductive here more than anywhere else. Hence the requirement is to find a

systematic way of reinforcing the attractiveness of scientific professions to young
people and the attractiveness of Europe as a location for researchers from overseas
in order for European research to acquire a truly international dimension.

DIHT recommendations:

   replenishment and wider promulgation of Marie Curie industrial grants
   deliberate opening up of Marie Curie grants for businesses outside industry,
    above all service providers; rechristening of awards as Marie Curie business

– Science, society and the citizen:
A further, indispensable overall condition for promoting innovation lies in the need to
establish a new relationship throughout Europe between science and society by
pushing for closer ties between research activities and policies on the one hand and
the needs of society on the other, by placing greater emphasis on projected demand
through enhanced planning and application of the sustainable development principle,
and by taking the social and ethical consequences of scientific and technological
progress into greater consideration. However, this line of thought cannot be used as
the blanket justification for substantial hikes in the research support budget. In FP 6
“Technology Assessment” should only be funded where it has a role to play in
supporting urgent issues relevant to the EU. At the same time, it will need to take
aspects and consequences of executive legislative action into account. For the time
being, issues of acceptance are unlikely to be resolved at EU level and shall have to
be treated on a way that is meaningful and relevant to the everyday citizen. The
subsidiarity principle in this case will begin to operate at the regional level, if not


The “dimensions” that are supposed to be considered at this stage (i.e. overall
coherence of scientific and technological cooperation in Europe, the regional and
international dimension) are as yet only described in vague terms and clearly need to
be filled out in terms of substance. Thus to take just one example, the regional
dimension (despite RIS/RITTS and other measures) has yet to fully take into account
the fact that SMEs in particular tend to be strongly influenced by their regional
environment and only make limited use of know-how from more distant regions and



The DIHT agrees with the argument that European research should be directed more
closely at a limited number of priorities. At the same time, however, it should be
noted that important fields of technology are not always served by the decision to
reduce the number of themes or key actions to any arbitrary amount.

The principles for selection and the justification of measures, namely
 justification for public sector funding (value for the general public, assistance in
   implementing state policy or resolving social problems, strengthening of European
 European added-value (supplementing of activities carried out in member states
   due to costs and scope (“critical mass”), results derived from economies of scale,
   integration of complementary skills, transnational character of research (e.g.
   climate research)
should be rigorously upheld and maintained for each measure in question. Up to
now, clear and transparent justifications have been thin on the ground.

Nevertheless, the notion that research projects should only be subsidised from public
funds “if the research in question can contribute to the implementation of state policy
or is indispensable for doing so” is questionable. A forward-looking policy on research
needs to be devised for the long term, and should have nothing to do with short term
interests that only serve the state.


In actual fact, the research fields proposed as being stock candidates for priority
funding, namely:
 post-genome research and research into serious diseases,
 nanotechnologies,
 information society/research in connection with the e-Europe initiative,
 aerospace,
 research as a back-up for political decision-making at European level, particularly
    in matters involving high risk and uncertainty, including the application of the
    precautionary principle,
 research work carried out in support of Community policies necessary to
    implement a model of sustainable development in the broader sense of the term
can only be cited as examples of thematic areas and fields that have been defined in
extremely broad terms and which require a more precise description.

A particularly welcome idea is the notion that exclusion criteria should be established
for themes undergoing assessment for inclusion to check whether these could not be
better handled at national level. A good example of this would be non-thematic
oriented SME funding in cases where the latter does not yield any genuine European

DIHT recommendations:

     As well as the contenders for priorities mentioned above containing themes such
      as the environment, climatology, health and energy sources, the DIHT would also
      -  Production and process-based technologies
      -  Transport and telecommunications research as a means of establishing
          transeuropean networks / mobility
     The intended technological fields should not be treated as the subjects of
      separate grant award schemes; it would be better to develop interdisciplinary
      programmes/key actions with a view towards achieving visionary goals (e.g.:
      “Optical Technologies for the 21st Century”)
     Such goals (“Mega Challenges for Europe”) already feature in a working paper set
      out by the IPTS2 dated 4 December 2000 and may serve as guidance

                             INSTRUMENTS AND PROCEDURES

Not every proposal for changing Framework Programme instruments can be
completely justified by referring to the goals of the “European Research Area”.
Proven instruments should not be discarded at the simple drop of a hat. The ERA is a
medium to long term vision which must allow time for making a series of well thought
out instrumental adjustments.

Hence a “move away from an approach directed at individual projects towards a
much broader procedure implemented through a series of coherent measures” does
not appear to make much sense in the immediate term. What is required is an
intelligent blend of instruments capable of handling inter alia sensible, smaller-scale
projects. Any commitment to draw up overall financing plans in advance “with the
participation of the Union therein merely part of a larger overall framework” would
also have to undergo careful legal scrutiny; under no circumstances should the
requirements exceed those of the already criticised implementation plans.

The same blend of instruments should also include a move towards measures with
greater structural capability, operating for longer periods of time (i.e. over four years).
Once again, such a move should not develop into a “one size for all” blanket solution.
It would be useful to redirect part of the project funding system in its present form and
bring it under more programmatic control. Instruments “with variable geometry” could
indeed provide greater flexibility at the level of entire programmes. Approaches
towards an institutional funding model, on the other hand, would be undesirable and
counterproductive in terms of flexibility.

    Emerging Thematic Priorities for Research in Europe, IPTS-JRC Working Paper

DIHT recommendations:

   Intelligent blend of instruments consisting of short and longer term measures
    directed at projects and programmes
   Phasing out of bureaucratic measures such as overall financing plans
   Use of instruments “with variable geometry”; otherwise member states to steer
    clear of co-financing commitments
   Phasing out of permanent institutional funding system
   Retention of selection system after public calls to submit proposals


– Networking of national programmes:
Here the Commission still has a lot of explaining to do. How does it envisage the
networking and strengthening of the mutual opening up of national programmes, or
the coordinated implementation of national programmes, in practical terms? The
DIHT has repeatedly pointed out that the Commission cannot be allowed to encroach
on national funding programmes or adopt a centralist superstructure. An “open
method of coordination” may help to avoid dual financing at national and European
level; but what it should really mean (more than anything else) is transparency for all
measures taken by individual states.

At the same time it should also be noted how the Commission interprets participation
in the research programmes of more than one member state according to Article 169
of the Treaty, even in cases where the underlying issues and themes are supposed
to be accorded priority and dealt with at Community level. It would be quite
inadequate if the Union were only to assume the costs of coordination.

DIHT recommendations:

   Clarification of possible problems in connection with an “open method of
   Observance of the subsidiarity principle for all “opening up strategies”
   Development of a transeuropean Internet-hosted grant awards database to create
    transparency for all national funding programmes; alternatively, appropriate
    pooling of existing databases

– Networking of top research centres:
The networking of top research potential funded by the private and public sectors is
an original idea that has emerged from the ERA and should be carried out, as
previously suggested, via a series of long term, mutual working programmes. Like the
US model mentioned above, the financing should be confined to start-up funding.
Regular progress checks and a progressive alignment towards market conditions,
particularly with regard to competitiveness, have a role to play in avoiding a system of
permanent institutional subsidies. The courage displayed in setting up and
networking the “Centres of Excellence” must be accompanied by the courage to limit

the periods for which grants are awarded. Flexibility in the working programmes and
resources means that they must be able to account for changes resulting from the
emergence of new problems, technological conditions and market developments.
Given limited funding, effective and transparent competition is absolutely essential for
the best networks.

– Targeted large-scale research projects:
The DIHT appreciates that large-scale projects can have a valuable role to play as
one way of dealing with thematic priorities. Depending on the type of theme, SMEs
need to be adequately integrated (if necessary, as sub-contractors) into consortia
made up of businesses, universities and research centres. For this purpose they
should undergo a simplified bidding procedure. The same applies in the case of
“previously agreed overall financing plans”.

The Commission has declared its intention that Union funding should be tied to a
commitment that certain results in terms of technological achievements, and
economic and social effects, will be achieved – but this seems to be a false hope. In
the world of research projects, it is simply not possible to enter into this kind of
commitment. More to the point, the goals need to be formulated as accurately as
possible. Here, business should be allowed to take a major part in such processes of
definition. In return, where the Union has a variable share of the overall costs and
supplies a relatively low level of funding, this means that its influence over the project
will have to decline accordingly.

DIHT recommendations:

   Introduction of large-scale projects as one of several funding possibilities where
    this appears sensible and is supported by business
   Adequate participation of interested high-tech SMEs with simplified bidding
    procedures and entry rules which the consortium partners may also set
    themselves; target threshold for thematically suitable consortia: 20% SME
    participation, if necessary also as sub-contractors
   The commitment for the achievement of certain results must be replaced by the
    exact description of desired goals
   Influence and control exerted by the Commission to be commensurate with its
    share in overall project funding; drawing up of corresponding procedures
   Transfer of large-scale projects to EUREKA projects when the former become
    closer to market in the course of time


Firstly, the remarks stated under “Main points and goals” also apply here.

The need for “measures to support research conducted by national or regional
technical research centres working together for European federations of industry or
amalgamations of national federations on themes of interest to a large number of
SMEs in all member states” has not been sufficiently articulated to justify European
added-value. New kinds of “cooperation research” measures, which in turn only

respond to the needs of a limited number of SMEs in various European countries
appear almost as a direct contradiction in terms.

On the other hand, the compilation, processing and distribution of information
relevant to SMEs, e.g. on market trends and technological developments, seems to
be a lot more necessary, providing it is up to date and can be communicated in a
suitable format. In the same way, the ongoing support measures for networking
researchers, businesses and financiers could be developed still further. But it should
be noted that support for business spin-offs from universities and the development of
“incubators” for high-tech companies comprise a field that is already well served at
national and regional level, like many other forms of SME assistance. Hence this field
should be left to the member states in accordance with the subsidiarity principle. In
this sense, global action plans – particularly those already financed through national
innovation plans – are not desirable at EU level.

DIHT recommendations:

   Phasing out of new measures for cooperation research whenever clear European
    added-value cannot be demonstrated
   Observation of the subsidiarity principle for numerous measures at
    national/regional level in cases of business start-ups, development of incubators,
    etc.; this would be a good “coordination” exercise to prevent dual funding


The development and networking of cross-border infrastructure – in areas where de
facto it does not already exist – should take place under competitive conditions
established in the main by interested member states and financing organisations,
and under their control. There is no particular reason for them to enter into
association agreements with the Community. The same basic principle also applies
here: the less the Union is prepared to take a share in the funding, the more it should
give up its position in the driver’s seat. Given the right level of interest and
commitment on the part of the initiators, a funding package from the member states
and regions, the European Investment Bank, the Structural Funds or from user
businesses and private foundations can also be put together without the need for the
Commission to provide coordination assistance.


Know-how transfer from one brain to another is a fundamental interest of business.
An increase in the amount of mobility grants awarded to researchers from the
countries making up the Union, from the group of applicant and overseas countries
therefore merits serious consideration indeed. But from the point of view of industry,
this applies less to exchange programmes for scientists from various institutes than
to a stronger exchange between science and business. The “creation of a grants
system for the transfer of knowledge and new technology above all to the SMEs”
comes close to meeting this target. At the same time business is also concerned with
issues of recruiting the next generation of human resources. But whether special

measures at EU level are the right approach towards encouraging young people to
study the sciences or apply for a job in the research sector is a question that at the
very least needs to be examined carefully. Many of the framework conditions for
mobility mentioned in the ERA report come under the responsibility of the member
states or other bodies of the Commission rather than DG Research (cross-
departmental issues). The RTD Framework Programme should therefore not be
allowed to depart too far from its own remit.


All of the issues mentioned here are undoubtedly of major importance. But the
remarks above nonetheless apply (examination of the most effective level(s) of
implementation, purpose of the RTD programme). The DIHT notes further:

– Support for political decision-making and a European scientific reference
It makes sense to continue the generic activity of “measurement and testing” in order
to develop a technical (not scientific!) reference system. In this case priorities need to
be set both for the measures themselves and at the different levels of
implementation. Initially, priority should be accorded to special research, validation,
tests and pre-normative measures; they belong to the core elements of the
integration process in the Community. Each technical reference system must be
sufficiently flexible so that it does not prevent technical progress. In this development
there is little room for political intervention: politicians would do best to keep out of the
process. Standards and norms must be determined principally by business in
cooperation with the relevant international research bodies. Alongside the individual
states and the Union, international standards are increasingly coming to a play a
significant part in this field; a European reference system should take account of this
and not be allowed to chart an isolated course in its work.

In its position paper of February 2000 regarding the ERA the DIHT already
commented on the following issues:
– Research and social requirements
– Dialogue between Science and Society
– Women and Science
– Ethics
Here, the special need for measures at Community level should be carefully worked
out and backed up by strong argumentation.

                               FUNDING THE CHANGES

The selection of projects based on the principle of public calls to submit proposals
and their assessment using the “peer review” procedure should be retained. It is not
immediately apparent why it should be necessary to depart from these principles for
the purposes of large-scale research projects or research infrastructure. “Closed

shops” or “limited tenders” that are only directed at a small target group can hardly be
considered acceptable.

The need to develop new types of management is made quite evident. At first sight,
the “idea of letting those involved in research have the professional autonomy to
carry out major activities” appears extremely attractive, but what this really entails still
needs to be specified. Hence it is obvious that targeted large-scale research projects
should be carried out autonomously by the project participants; but at the end of the
day the responsibility for the use of the funds will continue to rest with the
Commission, which will need to stand up to the scrutiny of periodic checks by the
European Court of Auditors. In connection with future outsourcing of certain
implementation tasks the “project backer models” that have been tested out in
Germany certainly provide an interesting point of departure. Such project backers
would have to guarantee absolute neutrality in all aspects of their work and be
selected in the form of a competitive procedure – assuming they had not already
been appointed from the ranks of the Commission itself. Thus the backers do not
necessarily have to consist of public institutions or bodies. Further consideration
should also be given to the extent to which project backers or “executive agencies”
are capable of assuming support functions for businesses and research bodies
(information, submission of bids, etc.). This might well assist in the streamlining of
European support networks. Inasmuch as the member states attribute great
importance to national or regional advisory services, it would be up to them to
maintain their own support mechanisms.

An equally attractive idea would be to have suitable backers autonomously conduct
the award and administration of mobility grants based on criteria that had been
established previously. Here, a key consideration would be to decide in each case
whether national backers should receive a certain fixed level of funding or whether it
would be more expedient to press ahead with a further phase of decentralisation.

In the opinion of the DIHT, any “activities programmes” organised around top
networked research centres or activities in the field of research infrastructure are less
likely to succeed in terms of autonomous administration since they could quite easily
turn into a series of “gentlemen’s agreements”, “understandings” and a lack of
openness. The same remark applies to “cooperation research projects for the benefit
of numerous SMEs”.

The DIHT proposes that at the initial stage formal activities of the Commission such
as registration, formal checking of bids, etc. should be decentralised as a pilot
scheme, preferably during the remaining term of the 5th Framework Programme.

DIHT recommendations:

   The Commission should concentrate once more on its core duties and outsource
    executive tasks whenever this appears useful
   Project backers or “executive agencies” should be deployed for large-scale
    research projects and mobility grants; in such cases the extent to which these
    types of models can be applied to each kind of project needs to be examined
   A further study should examine the extent to which these agencies can assume
    support functions for businesses and research centres; this could reduce the large
    number of existing advisory bodies and networks of the Community, which could
    then be transferred back to national levels of responsibility
   Independently of the above, the advisory structures will need to be streamlined in
    any case if multiple financing (through the EU, member states and the regions) for
    what in effect are practically the same tasks is to be avoided
   As an example of this, the EICs could be backed up by special units for
    RTD/innovation; this could be accompanied by an integration of IRCs into EICs,
    thereby enabling the so-called “EIC Innovation priority centres” to reorient their
    activities towards supplying advice on bid submissions while at the same time
    maintaining their work in the dissemination/transfer field. The net result would see
    the emergence of “Euro Innovation Information Centres“ (EIICs).
   The selection of projects should continue to be made on the basis of public calls
    for submissions of proposals and assessment under the “peer review” procedure
   Formal activities such as registration or the formal examination of bids should be
    decentralised as a pilot scheme, preferably during the remaining term of the 5 th
    Framework Programme

                                  THE NEXT STEPS

The DIHT welcomes the efforts of the Commission to launch a first set of initiatives
and pilot schemes under the ongoing Framework Programme wherever this appears
possible and desirable. This applies, for example, to measures leading to a
simplification of procedures or to an enlargement of the projects through the raising
of financial limits. The representatives of German industry will draw up a further
position paper upon presentation of the Commission’s draft for the 6 th Framework

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