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German non-profit sector calls for 100 per cent funding for EU project participation

German private, non-profit research organisations have collaborated to draft comments on the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and in particular on the proposed rules for participation. The resulting paper calls for measures to ease the participation of non-profi...

German private, non-profit research organisations have collaborated to draft comments on the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), and in particular on the proposed rules for participation. The resulting paper calls for measures to ease the participation of non-profit organisations, including an increase in funding. 'The current possibility of financing 50 per cent of the full costs is not sufficient, because providing the remaining own-contributions to the total costs is often not realistic being non-profit organisations without institutional funding there are very limited possibilities under German legislation to gain the necessary co-funding via profits from our other project activities,' it reads. This lack of funding makes it extremely difficult for these organisations to participate in projects for which Commission funding is less than 100 per cent. This leads to 'the exclusion of an important component of expert knowledge and competences in the European Research Area (ERA),' the opinion states. The proposal for FP7 offers a maximum EU contribution of 75 per cent of costs for such organisations, up from 50 per cent in FP6, which is welcomed in the paper. 'Nevertheless, the equalisation of funding schemes of universities and private non-profit research organisations fails to provide equal funding opportunities in order to prevent exclusion from the ERA,' say the authors. Another recommendation concerns the submission of official documents and other information. When submitting a proposal, research organisations are obliged to provide financial statements and many other documents. They must currently submit the documents for each individual proposal, which is an administrative burden for many potential participants. The paper therefore proposes a database for all such documents, accessible to all Commission services. The opinion also calls for improved funding instruments for dissemination. 'Dissemination measures are frequently required by contract to be implemented after project conclusion, and thus occur after the project period for which costs can be recovered. A performance-related funding is needed here,' reads the paper. Other recommendations address funding for training and dissemination in specific targeted research projects (STREPs), the interpretation of financial guidelines, bridging financial gaps between projects, ensuring the neutrality of programme management, and promoting European integration.

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