General secretariat for research and technology-gsrt

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Mesogeion 14-18

11510, Athens

Greek Position Paper

regarding the 7th European Union Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (2006-10)

December 2004


The Greek scientific community attributes great importance to the European Community Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration (RTD), not only as a source of project funding, but mainly because of the multiple opportunities for cooperation provided, the valuable results supporting the European competitiveness and the overall positive impact on citizens’ prosperity. Therefore, further strengthening of RTD activities in the 7th RTD Framework Programme (2006-10) is a universal requirement of all stakeholders in Greece.

The Greek scientific community, already having had a very good track record of active participation in Framework Programmes, shows a keen interest on the content of the 7th Framework Programme and follows closely the debate on the future of European RTD policy, in the various discussion fora. In this context, a meeting was held in Athens, on the 2nd of November, to improve the understanding of the Commission’s ideas on the future of European research by the Greek scientific community. The key speakers were, the Director General of DG Research, European Commission, Dr. Achilleas Mitsos and the Greek Minister of Development, Mr. Dimitrios Sioufas.
The Greek position on the 7th RTD Framework Programme is based on the outcome of an open consultation process, launched by the Ministry, following the Commission’s Communication on the future of the European Research. It reflects the experience of various actors from their participation in previous RTD Framework Programmes, particularly the 6th Framework Programme and aims to contribute to the attainment of the major European objectives (Lisbon objectives), taking into account widely acknowledged needs, such as further strengthening the European research and innovation area, increasing the RTD investment of the private sector towards the Barcelona target and increasing the international cooperation, particularly with EU neighbouring countries.
A High Level Group of Experts formulated the present position paper.

Basic principles
The promotion of the scientific and technological excellence and the selection of projects on a competitive basis, following open calls for proposals and peer-review evaluation should remain the basic principle for the implementation of the 7th RTD Framework Programme.

The reinforcement of European competitiveness, sustainable growth and attainment of societal needs are the basic objectives of the 7th RTD Framework Programme. To this end emphasis should be put on actions aiming at strengthening both the European knowledge base and the capability of industry to use new knowledge, as well as to support EU policies and objectives. Additional requirements aiming at the creation of a real internal market for research and researchers are the better coordination of national RTD activities and the improvement of human resources. The attractiveness of Europe to RTD investors and researchers from all over the world should remain one of the primary goals.
In order to achieve these objectives, better synergy between RTD and other EU policies, especially education, regional and innovation policy is required. This implies a better coordination between different Commission’s DGs involved, mainly DG Research and DG Enterprise. The promotion of technological innovation has to be an integral part of all the actions under the 7th Framework Programme. The separation of research and innovation activities will further intensify the “European paradox”, that is the insufficient conversion of high quality research results to financial value.

Taking into consideration that the promotion of RTD activities constitutes a crucial component of the Lisbon objectives and that new challenges appear at European level, the Commission’s proposal to double the Community budget for research is fully supported.

Rationalization and simplification
The excessive bureaucracy, the complicated, often unclear, strict procedures and control mechanisms applied to the projects implementation have been identified as a major problem by the Greek participants. The situation has not been improved, despite the use of new instruments expected to contribute in solving such problems. On the contrary, the shift towards larger projects has created a further burden to participants and in many cases led to the artificial enlargement of projects.
We appreciate the ongoing Commission’s efforts towards the simplification and acceleration of the procedures under the 6th RTD Framework Programme. However, it is important for the success of the 7th Framework Programme that efforts should be focused on the promotion and adoption of clear rules, which have a demonstrable effect on the simplification and rationalization of projects management and implementation.

General approach
Greek researchers support the Commission’s approach as identified in its Communication entitled “Science and technology, the key to Europe’s future- Guidelines for future European Union policy to support research”, noting that as in the 6th Framework Programme, the transnational collaborative research will also constitute the core of the 7th RTD Framework Programme, in terms of both budget and intensity of activities. In addition, very important actions, such as the promotion of technological innovation and international cooperation, missing or insufficiently covered in this Communication, should have a proper place as integral parts of the 7th RTD Framework Programme.

Transnational Collaborative research - Instruments - Joint Technological Initiatives
Collaborative research and instruments
There is a general very positive opinion of Greek participants about the importance of collaborative research projects. This type of research, which primary aims at improving industrial competitiveness, is familiar to all stakeholders and still well timed to meet the current challenges and needs at EU level.
Collaborative transnational research will be rolled out in areas of great economic and technological importance, bringing together industries, universities, research centers, Small and Medium Size Enterprises-SMEs and other stakeholders. The Greek position on relevant thematic areas will be presented at a later stage. What should be mentioned at this point is that the Greek research community fully shares the selection criteria proposed by Commission in its open consultation on the thematic priorities of the 7th RTD Framework Programme, namely contribution to EU policy objectives, European research potential and European added value.
The main concern of the Greek research community regarding this issue has to do with the instruments to be used. The Greek researchers endorse and support the comments made on the instruments by the Marimon High-Level Group and would like to see them fully taken on board. Furthermore, by reason of the Commission’s reference1, on the “creation of centers of excellence”, which gives rather the impression of “closed-shops”, it is deemed necessary to stress out that equal access to all excellent teams across all European Union Member States and associated countries should be ensured, regardless of the instrument in use. Additionally, one of the main objectives in this case should be the creation of “poles of excellence”, which through proper networking will contribute to socioeconomic and technological developments at regional, national and European level.
Continuity between the 6th and 7th Framework Programmes on the instruments applied to support collaborative research is of paramount importance. Any novelties proposed should be applied only on a pilot basis and with a budget dedicated for this purpose. The majority of the budget allocated to the transnational collaborative research should be allocated through existing instruments, i.e. Integrated Projects (IP), Networks of Excellence (NoEs) and STREPS, as they have been defined following the Marimon report’s recommendations and the Commission’s response to it. The following issues are highlighted:

  • Integrated Projects do not necessarily mean big projects in terms of participants or/and budget. The size of the project depends on the scope, objectives and thematic area. The crucial point for a successful IP is the mobilization of the necessary critical mass.

  • The main idea behind NoEs, that is the durable integration in order to combat fragmentation, is still valid and timely and should be maintained; however, it can be achieved only with a limited number of partners that are dully committed.

  • A better balance of the budget distribution between NoEs, IPs and STREPs, in favour of STREPS is very much needed.

  • A clear definition and scope concerning each instrument has to be addressed. No further changes and open questions should remain during the implementation phase of the 7th Framework Programme. The rules set-up should be kept thoughout the duration of the Programme. All uncertainties related to instruments and rules have to be already clarified under the 6th Framework Programme.

Joint Technological Initiatives
Technology platforms
Technology platforms are a new idea already introduced under the 6th Framework Programme. They aim at bringing together companies, research institutions, financial bodies and regulatory authorities at European level, in order to define a common research agenda on strategic areas, which will mobilize a critical mass of national and European resources through public and private sector partnerships. Technology platforms seem an attractive idea since their application will reduce overlapping of RTD efforts and mobilize RTD investments by the private sector. Although several technology platforms have been launched until now, there are still important unclear points and remaining open questions related to their implementation, in particular links to the thematic areas of the 7th Framework Programme and the selection criteria to be used.
The Greek scientific community identifies a risk that the Technology Platforms may become a mechanism for big projects and players, like the initial definition of IPs in the first calls under the 6th Framework Programme. Under such a perspective, smaller players, irrespective of their excellence and competence in relevant areas, are expected to have difficulties in participating. Taking also into account that these Technology platforms are still a new concept, Greece does not favour allocating a substantial part of the 7th Framework Programme’s budget to their implementation. We suggest only a limited number of Technology Platforms to be funded by the 7th Framework Programme. A priory commitment by the industries involved and/or financial bodies, to cover a major part of the required budget by their own resources, should be a selection criterion for their support.

The Greek scientific Community calls for a transparent and visible implementation of the Technology Platforms, which will give equal opportunities to all stakeholders and will ensure the selection of the best ones on a competitive basis. Greece will not support a two-tier approach that offers an eventual introduction of specific measures for smaller players.

Intellectual property rights issues are identified as an important element to be further elaborated in the case of Technology Platforms; otherwise industries with innovative ideas will avoid participating in this scheme.
Article 171
The Greek position will be formulated on a case-by-case basis.

Taking into consideration the heavy procedures for the implementation of article 171 (joint undertakings), Greece is cautious regarding its potential extensive application under the 7th Framework Programme. It should be used only in limited, well-justified cases, requiring public-private sector partnerships, under the condition that the usual instruments are not suitable for that particular case.

SMEs participation.
There is no doubt that efforts have to be made in order to increase the SMEs participation in all activities of the next Framework Programme. Furthermore, there is a need for a separate programme for SMEs, divided in sub -programmes, each one designed to meet the needs of different categories of SMES (high-tech, traditional, new or spin-off etc). Following an in depth analysis of the new definition of SMEs, which will be applied from the 1rst of January 2005, this point will be further examined and more specific views will be presented at a later stage.

International Cooperation
The globalization of the economy points the way to empowering the international cooperation. The 6th Framework Programme introduced a significant change in the International Cooperation activities of the European Union. For the first time, besides the ‘traditional’ activities dedicated to the third countries (i.e. the Specific international cooperation activities), these countries had the possibility and opportunity to participate in the ‘core’ activities of the Framework Programme (i.e. the ‘Thematic priorities’). All actions applied under the 6th RTD Framework Programme should be continued. In particular:

  • Third country participation in the ‘core’ activities of the new FP.The opening and participation must continue, including funding for the ‘INCO- target countries’ (developing countries). However, this opening must be more targeted and pro-active, especially towards countries representing a significant scientific potential on specific fields that could be beneficial to the European research community.

  • Specific international cooperation activities. These activities constitute the most important and visible tool for international cooperation. They need to be strengthened with particular emphasis on activities towards Europe’s neighbouring countries (Western Balkan, Mediterranean and Black Sea countries), in line with the ‘European neighborhood policy’ and with other important European initiatives such as the ‘EU – Balkan countries Action Plan in S&T’ adopted in June 2003. The existing tools (e.g. STREPS, SSAs, etc.) should be maintained, but maybe other type of cooperative activities could be investigated (e.g. ‘CRAFT’ type projects).

Finally, synergy and cooperation with other schemes such as COST, EUREKA and INTAS should be enhanced.

Basic research at European Level
The Greek scientific Community supports the follow-up of upfront collaborative basic research at the frontier of knowledge in some thematic priorities, in particular in IST. At the same time, there is an overwhelming support of the Greek scientific Community to the promotion within the 7th Framework Programme of a new action for basic (investigator driven) research and the allocation of a specific budget for this purpose. This action will promote competition between researchers at EU level. Scientific excellence should be the sole selection criterion, evaluated by an international peer-review procedure.
The new action should cover all scientific areas, including humanities (bottom-up approach) and be accessible to all European scientists. Although this approach will lead to over-subscription, the Greek scientific community is against the notion of any specific arrangement aiming at limiting the number of the submitted proposals. The implementation of a procedure similar to the one used by the National Science Foundation of the USA is expected to resolve the initial over-subscription problem in the medium term in a quite satisfactory way.
Furthermore, Greece supports the implementation of this action by providing grants to individual research teams, with possible but not mandatory transnational collaboration.
The idea of establishing the European Research Council is supported. It has to be fully autonomous and operate in a transparent and efficient way. The legal basis for the new structure might be a Community Executive Agency.
The ERC should work to preserve the richness in the variety of issues covered, the schools of thought, the methods employed, the research cultures and their perspectives in the European science. The ERC should take the responsibility to integrate science not only with technology and application but, also, with society in a meaningful interaction.
Human resources
Human resources are a key parameter for European competitiveness and growth and this action in the 7th Framework Programme should be further strengthened. Greek researchers support the Commission’s approach on human resources. This includes efforts towards developing scientific careers, ensuring that researchers remain in Europe and move without obstacles within European Union and towards making Europe more attractive to the best researchers in the world.
Marie Curie actions in the 7th Framework programme will form the core of these activities with an increased budget, provided that:

  • The Marie Curie actions should be simplified and rationalized. Among other issues, this implies a significant reduction of the current actions number and a clear description of their scope.

  • The bottom-up approach should be continued and the size of projects should remain approximately at the same level.

  • Reintegration mechanisms2, early stage fellowships, research training networks and factors of less favoured regions in the host driven actions should be continued.

Specific attention should be paid to Marie Curie actions promoting the international dimension of training and mobility through increased exchanges with other parts of the world, the attraction of young researchers to science and the initial training, as well as the transfer of knowledge, in particular for the benefit of the least technologically advanced regions. Furthermore, Greece fully supports the Commission’s proposal for Marie Curie actions aiming at lifelong learning and career development, as well as at increased synergy and cooperation between Marie Curie actions and relevant national programmes. Greece pays particular attention to the cooperation between national programmes on one side and Marie Curie reintegration mechanisms and international incoming fellowships on the other side.

In addition, actions should be undertaken to further improve the Framework Conditions. All Commission’s efforts to this direction are very much appreciated. Amongst others, the creation of the European network of mobility centers (ERA-MORE) and the European Researchers Portal (ERA-CAREERS) should be further supported in order to become more effective and expand where appropriate. Furthermore, Greece urges the Commission to continue its efforts to remove mobility obstacles within Member States.
It is deemed positive that the age limit for the funding of experienced researchers has been lifted. Other limitations such as any restrictions on the number of consecutive contracts in the same institution should also be removed. It is necessary to promote the establishment of long-term carriers of researchers in European institutions thus making the prospect of such employment attractive to postdoctoral graduates. Any insecurity associated with short-term contracts, insurance problems in raising a family when working in research, should be effectively addressed.

Research Infrastructure
Greece believes that coordination and cooperation in the field of research infrastructures in Europe is of paramount importance for the creation of a real internal market for research. These actions should have their place in the 7th Framework Programme.
Greek researchers attribute particular importance to the transnational access of research teams to the best research infrastructures in Europe and to the continuation of support to the establishment of GEANT communication network and Grid type of activities. All these activities should be covered by an appropriate budget allocation within the 7th RTD Framework Programme.
Relating to new research infrastructures, Greece fully shares the Commission’s approach as expressed in its Communication on the future of European research (in particular the bottom-up approach, the development of a vision and roadmap for research infrastructure in Europe in the next 10 to 20 years, and the role of the European Strategy Forum on Research infrastructure - ESFRI). However, ESFRI recommendations should not prejudge the allocation of community funding by the Framework Programme. The proposed operation mechanism (TEN-like) needs to be further elaborated.
Concerning the budget, we believe that the 7th Framework Programme budget should be mainly allocated to the access instruments. The budget for new infrastructures should primarily be used for the first, preparatory stage.
In funding new infrastructures3, the eligibility of combining the Framework Progamme budget with structural funds, European Investment Funds and national resources is considered of utmost importance.

Coordination of national research programmes
The current activities on strengthening the European Research Area and primarily the ERA-NET activities have been very much appreciated due to their positive effect. However, these activities should be strengthened and expanded in order to have a structural effect and to create economy of scale and scope. Among other issues, this implies that the community funding will not be limited to coordination costs, but will also co-finance part of the RTD activities and the opening-up of the national RTD projects.
Regarding coordination of national programmes based on article 169, first and foremost the procedures for the preparation of such a programme should be defined, including the selection criteria for the programmes, which ultimately will be submitted to the Council.


1 In its Communication on the future of European Research,

2 Greece would like to point out that this action will be more effective and attractive to both researchers and host institutes, if the funding of researchers salary will be fully or partially covered by Community budget.

3 Research infrastructures means facilities that provide essential services to the scientific community for basic and applied research. They may be “single-sited, “distributed” or “virtual”.


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