EUA has been an engaged stakeholder throughout the policy debate on the implementation of the Seventh Framework Programme procedures and particularly the need for greater simplification in evaluation, budgetary, reporting and accounting requirements. It has supported the introduction of the FP7 eligible cost model which allows for the payment of both eligible direct and indirect research costs where these can be fully accounted for by universities – EUA Statement on FP7 Rules of Participation proposal for support rates and cost models.
EUA had welcomed the new FP7 cost model as a valuable step towards the principle of full costs research funding, but had warned also that its immediate implementation could be difficult due to the fact that in many countries’ universities did not yet possess appropriate accounting systems to operate this model. EUA argued therefore that the new FP7 cost model should offer the option of a critical flat rate payment for indirect research costs at 60% of total direct costs.
EUA worked actively in Brussels to secure the 60% flat rate indirect research costs support in FP7 contracts and subsequently launched a successful campaign to ensure the continuation of this flat rate until the end of FP7 (2007-2013). From its project activities on university financing and particularly its promotion of best practices in full costs approaches in Europe’s universities, EUA continues to gather further evidence to support its policy positions on the need for greater simplification and coherence in external funding scheme rules and accountability requirements.
EUA’s report “Financially sustainable universities: towards full costing in European universities” provided evidence-based arguments to underline the importance for Europe’s universities to move towards full costing of their research activities and equally the key role European funding programmes such as FP7 can play as drivers in this process. It is equally vital for the European Commission to continue to simplify the procedural rules of the 7th Framework Programme (and all other European funding schemes) to increase flexibility in taking into account the diversity of Europe’s universities and avoid placing excessive administrative burdens on them, in particular in terms of the financial and reporting procedures.
EUA submitted its consolidated views on the need for further simplification to the public consultation on the “Second Triennial Review of the Financial Regulation” in December 2009 – Contribution from the EUA to the Second Triennial Review – and during 2010 continues to present expert input at relevant meetings of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament as EU proposals for further simplification are under discussion. The most recent event at which EUA contributed was the European Parliament Committee for Budgetary Control Hearings in April 2010 – EUA contribution on Key Issues for Simplification of EU Funding.
Of particular concern also to EUA has been the introduction of reduced indirect research costs flat rates of 20% in EU joint undertakings with industry such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking (IMI-JU). From the beginning, EUA together with other stakeholders have expressed concerns about IMI’s intellectual property rights policy and its funding model. These concerns have been repeated on several occasions and have been transmitted to the relevant IMI -JU governing bodies and the European Commission.The IMI-JU is currently reviewing its intellectual property policy and the funding rules for reimbursement of indirect costs. For this reason, EUA together with a group of IMI stakeholders published in July 2010 a Joint Statement on IMI-JU to provide useful input in this review process and to try to ensure that these concerns are addressed.