Court of Auditors wants more simplification in FP7

The European Court of Auditors calls for more value for the money spent on EU research, and argues that the simplification of FP7 could be more radical than originally proposed by the Commission.

The Commission’s proposal for making participation in the FP7 less costly and cumbersome suggests, for example: 

  • to simplify the funding schemes 
  • a simplified cost-based funding system 
  • simpler, less bureaucratic, user-friendly language
  • fewer and shorter documents, 
  • fewer a priori checking procedures and requests to participants (light submission procedure) 
  • more autonomy to research consortia.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) issued, in April 2006, a rather harsh opinion on the Commission’s proposal for regulation laying down the rules for the participation in FP7. The Court points to the excessive transaction cost per euro spent, heavy and cumbersome grants administration and lack of flexibility as the main weaknesses of the Commission’s proposal.

Recognising that the proposal constitutes an important step towards more simplification and flexibility for FP7, the Court, however, states, that "some of the Commission proposals are not justified and risk complicating the management of the FP7 unnecessarily" and that "the Commission's proposal misses an opportunity for a radical change".

To allow for more flexibility and to further simplify the programme and its rules for participation, the Court recommends:

  • a centralised, ex-ante verification of legal entities, 
  • the use of common databases and electronical exchange of data by the Commission services, 
  • a more flexible governance structure for indirect actions, in the management, monitoring and review of which the Commission should not participate,
  • a single, simple-to-administer, cost reimbursement system.

Along with its proposal for the FP7 of April 2005, the Commission also issued a proposal for measures to simplify the administrative and financial rules of the FP7. 

A stakeholder consultation on the issue was organised in the summer of 2005.

  • The ECA's opinion and recommendations are not binding fo the Commission. 
  • The Parliament could take up the ECA's recommendations at its first reading of the proposal.

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