ESF announces its vision for future European research funding

Eighteen months ago, the European Science Foundation (ESF) started a debate on the construction of a new European research funding structure, with substantial funding capacity for research in the forefront of knowledge in Europe. This idea of creating a European Research Council would complement the European Commissions vision, of a true European Research Area with more open competition and collaboration between European researchers and a strengthening of the funding structures of research in Europe.

A High Level Working Group was formed by the ESF in April 2002 to review the case for establishing a new funding structure and to prepare recommendations. The ESF High Level Working Group chaired by Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College, London, has now produced a report, which advocates the need for an ERC, and shapes the scope of its remit and basic principles, its mode of operation, institutional development, and its funding sources.

Since the ESF High Level Group was formed, the Danish EU- Presidency last year established a working group, which has been given the task to report on the practical implementation of an ERC. The ESF report “New structures for the support of high-quality research in Europe” is the latest input to the debate within the European research community.

In his response to the ESF High Level Group report, the ESF Secretary General Enric Banda says:

“A European Research Council responsible for funding the highest quality “researcher initiated” science is essential for the future development of Europe. I very much hope and urge that, based on the report, decision makers will take the opportunity to move ahead quickly in the establishment of such a body.

I recognize that there remains much to do in terms of the details of the structure, funding and mode of operation of a European Research Council. As a matter of priority, ESF will work on these issues, which together with help of other groups will lead to its realization.

ESF, which brings together most of Europe’s research councils and national research organizations, is particularly well placed to contribute to the European Research Council project. It is both willing and able to evolve and change rapidly and to participate in this endeavour.”

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