She says the administrative burden placed on universities and businesses is making it costly and time-consuming to apply for European grants.
"German research institutes are now saying they are no longer inclined to apply for European money because it's too expensive and too burdensome. They rely on Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) grants because it's easier to get them," the MEP states.
Such preference for national funding, says Dr. Gräßle, runs counter to the European Commission's broader goal of fostering greater integration between Europe's researchers by creating a European Research Area (see EurActiv LinksDossier).
"We are at a crucial point. European research cooperation is so important, so why isn't it quicker, less burdensome and less expensive? We put European research at stake if we can't resolve these questions."
Research institutes can spend up to €100,000 applying for European grants even though the vast majority of funding requests end in failure.
"At the moment, the success rate of researchers applying for European funding is around 13%. This means 87% of requests for financing are thrown in the waste paper basket by the Commission."
The MEP proposes a two-stage procedure for applying for European funds. This would require applicants to send the Commission a more general description of the proposed project initially and, if the Commission finds it interesting, more detailed paperwork would then be submitted.
Dr. Gräßle says much of the docmentation demanded by the Commission from research institutes that receive funding after projects are completed is stored in an airport hangar.
"What's the point in demanding all of this paperwork if we don't communicate the results?," she asks.
Dr Gräßle, German MEP for Baden-Württemberg, is a member of the Parliament's budgets and budgetary control committees, and has raised a series of criticisms of how the EU research budget is administered. However, she is deeply frustrated that improvements she suggested be made after PF6 were not taken on board by the European Commission.
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