Commission sets out legal framework for European research infrastructures
New legislation currently being proposed by the European Commission will make it even easier for countries to jointly set up European research infrastructures.
Research infrastructures are becoming ever more important in advancing knowledge and technology, as they enable researchers to carry out extremely high level research.
However, the cost of setting up and running these facilities and resources is usually too heavy a burden for just one country to undertake. Typically, a research infrastructure costs several hundreds of millions of Euros to construct and several tens of millions of Euros to operate.
To help alleviate this economic burden, the host country often seeks out partners in other countries. Clubbing together in this way not only encourages the transfer of knowledge, but also helps to create the critical mass of information and researchers that is needed for groundbreaking research.
However, the legal environment as it currently stands does not lend itself to the establishment of partnerships with partners from different countries. Existing legal forms under national, EU or international law do not fully correspond to the specific needs of such multinational infrastructures.
This is where the new legal framework proposed by the European Commission comes into play. The new proposed framework will provide a legal personality recognised in all Member States and could provide some of the advantages of international organisations, such as exemptions to value added tax.
'Research infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex and expensive, often placing them beyond the reach of a single research group, region, nation or even continent,' said Janez Potocnik, European Science and Research Commissioner, at the launch of the proposal. 'The sheer size of such projects, generally hundreds of millions of Euros for construction and several tens of millions of Euros for operation, requires a joint effort by several European countries.'
Such a framework, once in place, would also drastically reduce the red tape and bureaucracy and potentially reduce drastically the time needed to set up a new research infrastructure. This would permit researchers to hit the ground running by allowing infrastructures to be operational as soon as possible, which is important in the quickly evolving world of science.
The legal framework is expected to be adopted by research ministers in December 2008. Following the development of related implementation procedures, the legal framework would be effective from mid-2009.
Creating and encouraging effective research partnerships across Europe is a major target of the EU. On the same day as the legal framework for research infrastructures was announced, the Commission proposed an innovative new approach to the joint programming of research.
The full text of the Commission's proposal can be downloaded:
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Category: General policy
Data Source Provider: European Commission
Document Reference: Proposal for a Council Regulation on the Community legal framework for a European Research Infrastructure (ERI). C(2008) 467, 16 July 2008.
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Legislation, Regulations; Policies; Scientific Research