Over the past 20 years the Community's research Framework Programme has expanded significantly in terms of budget, scale, scope and ambition. In line with this expansion, a range of different types of support have been developed to target an increasingly broad range of beneficiaries across an enlarging geographical area.
This evolution has brought with it increased complexity in terms of a multiplication of types of instrument, forms of contribution, requirements for submission and reporting, and rules of implementation. As well as the greater breadth, increased financial support, and growing number of participants associated with the projects being funded, this complexity has been accentuated by the need for internal and external controls to ensure that Community funds are spent wisely and correctly.
Important steps towards simplification have already been taken, not least in the design and implementation rules of the current 6th Framework Programme (FP6). Since then a series of measures have been implemented as a result of the assessment of the new instruments introduced under FP6 that was carried out under the chairmanship of Mr Ramon Marimon, as well as through the Commission's rationalisation and acceleration Action Plan.
In this context, the proposal for the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) represents both an opportunity and a challenge. In accordance with his clear commitment to simplification at all levels of EU research support, the Commissioner for Research, Mr Janez Potoènik, called for the establishment of a Commission inter-services working group (ISWG) to bring forward proposals for simplification under FP7. In addition, a Sounding Board of smaller actors has been set up with the aim of removing or reducing the barriers faced by small players participating in FP7.
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