The European Parliament's Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) committee has tabled 1700 amendments to the Commission's proposal for the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). However, starting the programme on time is more important, than 'small changes', according to MEP Jerzy Buzek, the rapporteur on FP7. Mr Buzek spoke on 10 May at a conference organised by CLORA, which represents French research organisations, and AVRIST, a French organisation that promotes international scientific cooperation. The ITRE committee will vote on all the amendments on 15 May (but will discuss financing and ethical issues two weeks later), and the amended report will then go to MEPs in June, and the Council in July. If all goes to plan, the Parliament will then vote at a second reading in September. If this stage is delayed as far as November, Mr Buzek is not sure that FP7 will begin on time on 1 January 2007. 'The small changes inside are not important. Continuity and starting on 1 January 2007 are very important,' said Mr Buzek. The rapporteur said that the Commission's proposal is 'good', but that the Parliament would like to make it 'excellent'. 'I'm just trying to keep it together. With 1700 ideas it very easy to lose the concept,' said Mr Buzek. The MEP gave his views on a number of proposed FP7 initiatives. He spoke enthusiastically about the European Research Council (ERC), and said that he would like to remain in regular contact with the council's scientific committee, perhaps through a board of trustees. 'I want the ERC to be independent, but I also want to have information from it,' he said. If MEPs are regularly informed about what the ERC is doing, they can pass this information on to their regions in person when they are in their home countries, he said. Mr Buzek was less enthusiastic about the European Institute of Technology (EIT), a concept originally proposed by Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The atmosphere in the European Parliament, and at Member States, is 'not very enthusiastic', said Mr Buzek. He does however work with a small group of people who support the idea, but would like the EIT to be a 'network of networks to give support to innovation'. The EIT should not seek to replicate Boston's MIT in the US - 'we are not interested in that', said Mr Buzek. The MEP was asked for his opinions on Technology Platforms and Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs). He declared himself strongly in favour of the former, but expressed reservations on the latter. Technology Platforms enjoy strong support within the Parliament, with nobody querying their usefulness, said Mr Buzek. He spoke of a recent conference in Vienna on the subject, and said that the enthusiastic participants were discussing how the platforms should look, not why they should exist. The strategic research agendas prepared by the platforms are an excellent idea, he said. Mr Buzek did however warn against creating many more platforms, suggesting the maximum figure of 35 (there are currently 30). He also spoke out against giving Technology Platforms a legal personality. 'They should be like NGOs [non-governmental organisations], a bottom-up idea. [...] With [EU] financing, bureaucracy starts, which is dangerous,' he said. For JTIs, there is support, but there are also questions within the Parliament, said Mr Buzek. His principal concern is that they will lead to stakeholders grouping together and shutting themselves off from others in the research community or elsewhere. 'They will be big enough not to have contact with anybody. We must avoid the fragmentation of our research. We must influence each other and take care of dissemination,' he said. The budget for FP7 - 54 billion euro - falls short of what the Commission had originally proposed. It is good, but not good enough, said Mr Buzek. 'In FP8 we should have twice as much as we have now in FP7. That should be our programme from the start,' said the rapporteur.