The House of Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Sub-Committee has been considering the Government’s formal response to its report The Effectiveness of EU Research and Innovation Proposals. In April the committee’s report recommended that the way UK businesses are made to access European funding for research and innovation needed to improve. Government Minister David Willetts, in responding to the report, acknowledged that the system in this country is “under resourced and fragmented.”
Now the Lords committee is writing back to the Minister, welcoming his pledge to make the domestic system better resourced. The letter comes as a long-awaited political agreement was reached at EU level for a €70 billion budget for research and innovation.
Other points made in the letter include:
- The committee welcomes the Government pledge to work with the European Commission on tackling excessive red tape, late payments and lengthy grant process.
- It feels the disparity between private sector participation and that of higher education institutions in accessing EU funds is still an issue of concern.
- Disappointment amongst committee members that the EU Council did not feel able to accept the proposed €80 billion budget, but understands the Government’s willingness to accept a €70.96 billion budget.
- The committee feels that the Government’s suggestion of a greater presence in Brussels for the newly linked Technology Strategy Board and National Contact Points is particularly positive.
Baroness O’Cathain, Chairman of the Committee, said:
“Enabling UK businesses to access their fair share of available EU funding for R&I is of paramount importance. Therefore I welcome the constructive response from the Minister to the recommendations set out in our report. In particular, I am encouraged by the Government’s promise to work with the Commission to tackle some of the issues we raised. Obviously many of our recommendations are made to the Commission, and we look forward to receiving their particular response.”
The details of the programme, known as Horizon 2020, were confirmed by EU Member States on 17 July, and the necessary legislation is expected to be adopted by the European Parliament in the early autumn. It forms part of the EU’s seven-year multiannual financial framework, on which political agreement between Member States and the European Parliament was reached in June.