European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn today (24 January 2011) announced three initiatives that will have an immediate impact on the administration of FP7 projects.
On her first day in office Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn had pledged to cut the red tape associated with EC Research Framework Programmes, and today she made a first delivery on that pledge.
At a press conference announcing the changes Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn stated: "We need to replace Kafka with common sense, we need to send red tape to the shredder, we need simple and clear rules, consistantly and rigourously applied."
The three changes announced today will save millions of Euros and provide better value for EU taxpayers she claimed.
“The changes outlined should significantly reduce the administrative burden involved in participation in FP7 projects - especially for SMEs,” commented Ger Spork, Innovation Manager at Cefic. “This in turn will encourage innovative SMEs along value chains to get involved with important collaborative research and innovation programmes in the future.”
The first change will allow more flexibility in how staff costs are calculated and reported to the EC. Currently many organisations are obliged to establish parallel accounting systems simply to comply with FP7 reporting requirements. From now on EU research grant-holders can apply their normal accounting systems when requesting reimbursement. In addition special certificates setting out how payments for staff are calculated will no longer be required.
The second measure looks to encourage further involvement of SMEs. In young, small companies it is often the case that owner/ managers do not have a formal salary and this disqualifies them from recieving payments under FP7. Now a flat-rate payment system will be introduced that will allow their contribution to projects to be recognised. This will hopefully open up FP7 to many more dynamic SMEs.
The final element looks to build a consistent approach to the implementation of FP7 through the establishment of a steering group at Director-General level. A number of DGs and EC agencies are involved in managing FP7 activities and this has led to a diversity of management practices. The steering group will ensure that a single set of rules applies to all aspects of participation in FP7.
The Commissioner expects these simpler rules will be better respected and allow abuses to be easier to detect. These three changes can be immediately implemented under the Commission's own area of competence. The Commissioner also expects further simplifications under proposals that will need to be debated with the European Parliament and European Council.
A video of the press conference by Commissioner Quinn is
available until 31 January 2011.
The press release on FP7 simplification is available here.