Brussels cuts red tape for researchers and SMEs to take part at Seventh Framework Programme

The European Commission has adopted measures to make participation in the EU's current Seventh Framework Programme for Research more attractive and more accessible to the best researchers and most innovative companies, especially Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Based on the simplification plan unveiled by the Commission in April 2010, these measures will take effect at once at will also inspire access conditions for the next EU research and innovation programme.

The Commission has adopted three concrete measures with immediate effect on the management of EU research grants in the current EU research programme, Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7). Each of these steps aims to give an answer to the main concerns repeatedly expressed by participants in the previous EU research and innovation programmes. These measures will allow participants to save time and effort on paperwork and attract even more and better applicants, including dynamic small businesses.

Measures to facilitate access to Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to researchers and SMEs

  1. Allowing more flexibility in how personnel costs are calculated so that EU research grant-holders can apply their usual accounting methods when requesting reimbursement for average personnel costs. They will no longer need to set up entire parallel accounting systems just for this purpose.
  2. SME owners whose salaries are not formally registered in their accounts can now be reimbursed, through flat-rate payments, for their contribution to work on research projects.
  3. A new steering group of senior officials from all the Commission departments and agencies involved will remove inconsistencies in the application of the rules on research funding.

These measures introduced by the European Commission are based on the proposals put forward in April 2010 with the presentation of of the plan to simplify procedures for the participation at EU research and innovation programmes. This plan described in a Commission Communication presented further simplification options which apply to the existing legal framework and, in the longer term, to a possible revision of the EU Financial Regulations. This Communication triggered a broad debate among the EU institutions and with many other research and innovation stakeholders.

The measures adopted in the present Commission Decision are based on a broad consensus reached in this debate, and are also in line with the recommendations of the Expert Group carrying out the Interim Evaluation of FP7.

The Commission considers simplification as one of the basic design principles for the next EU research and innovation programme. For that reason it has made of it one of the cornerstones for its planning and it will continue to push for substantive improvement. The Commission is expected to present its legislative proposals for the next EU research and innovation programme by the end of 2011, following an open consultation to be launched in the early spring.