Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

Article Category

Content archived on 2022-11-25

Article available in the following languages:

DE EN FR

Improving the quality, effectiveness and transparency of Community research programmes

In 1995, some 24,000 proposals were received by the European Commission from companies and individuals interested in participating in the Community's research programmes. The proposals involved over 100,000 participants from at least 15 different countries. The challenge of r...

In 1995, some 24,000 proposals were received by the European Commission from companies and individuals interested in participating in the Community's research programmes. The proposals involved over 100,000 participants from at least 15 different countries. The challenge of responding openly, equitably, impartially and efficiently to all these proposals led the Commission to hold a seminar in Brussels on 25 June 1996 in order to identify points at which the management of research programmes could be further improved. The seminar, organized at the request of Mrs. Edith Cresson, Commissioner responsible for research policy, was attended by members of the European Parliament and about 25 representatives of industry (including SMEs), academia and other research organizations. The seminar came half-way through implementation of the Fourth Framework Programme (1994-1998), and at a time when it can exert a positive influence on the development of the Fifth Framework Programme. The seminar addressed the following three issues in particular: - Reducing the level of oversubscription to calls for proposals; - Increasing transparency and efficiency in the evaluation of calls; - Streamlining contract negotiation and the financial aspects of research management. Of the 24,000 proposals received in 1995, only about 20% were selected for funding. Solutions discussed during the seminar to this problem of oversubscription included targeting calls more precisely, concentrating programmes on fewer and/or more focused objectives, more detailed information on eligibility and evaluation criteria, and extended use of pre-proposal checking of project outlines. As regards the transparency and efficiency of proposal evaluation and selection, there is a clear need to explain what goes on between the submission of a proposal and the approval of the projects to be funded. While ensuring that evaluation remains as impartial as possible, the Commission must increase transparency and consistency between programmes, and reduce the time between the deadline for proposal submission and the notification of project coordinators. In the field of contract negotiation, it was agreed that further streamlining and finance are needed. While considerable improvements have already been made in processing payments, additional measures to simplify procedures and help speed up payments still further are still required. Among these is a vademecum on the use of the new model contract including clear guidance for participants on the interpretation of the various clauses. In addition, participants at the seminar stressed the importance of early feedback to coordinators on the probability of project funding, and the need for greater consistency between programmes. They also expressed support for improvements which are already under way, such as the new guidelines for programme evaluation currently being developed, and already published for use in the MAST and JOULE programmes. Consultations with industry and the scientific community will now follow the seminar. The Commission will publish a new manual on the management of EU programmes, based on the seminar and these subsequent consultations.

Related articles