ERC President addresses EP Budgets Committee
The President of the European Research Council (ERC), Mr. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, addressed the European Parliament's Budgets Committee at its meeting on 27 January 2016 in Brussels.
In his speech, Mr. Bourguignon pointed out that Europe is currently facing multiple challenges, to which its Institutions must react. He highlighted the importance of the current midterm revision of the EU budget in this context, adding that it would be important to ensure that "the reviewed budget reflects the priorities and opportunities of the 21st Century". He also stated that "each generation’s essential responsibilities include preparing the next one and providing it with the means to overpass it. We must ensure that we do not forget this duty, even as we are struggling with today’s pressing emergencies."
Mr. Bourguignon then highlighted the important role the European Research Council (ERC) has played in this context since its establishment in 2007, saying that "Europe will have to use all its resources to remain a privileged place to develop new knowledge which will give birth to ground-breaking innovations that can be implemented in a sustainable way and benefit everyone in the society." He pointed out different aspects which prove the ERC's excellence and efficiency, e.g. an independent ex-post evaluation of the first series of contracts after their conclusion; providing freedom of exploring ideas at the frontiers of knowledge; simple processes with a clear focus on scientific quality; the high quality of the evaluation of proposals; an administrative overhead of the ERC of just over 2%, an error rate of 1.35% and an average time to pay of 22 days; the introduction of the "Proof-of-Concept" sub-programme. The ERC evaluation has also shown that 20% of ERC-funded projects have produced a breakthrough, 51% a major scientific advance, meaning an overall success rate of 71% "overly above average". According to the President, the ERC is already regarded as a top research organisation also outside Europe, which has led to a number of agreements with other top organisations to allow their young researchers to join ERC projects.
With regard to the ERC's budget, Mr. Bourguignon talked of a "constrained financial situation", given the increasing number of submissions, which has led to the ERC having to refuse a number of high-level applications. The current success rate of ERC proposals is at around 11/12%, but is likely to fall below the critical 10% rate, unless the ERC receives additional funds in the future.
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