ALLEA supports British Academy recommendations on the regulation to establish the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI)

news bannerALLEA, in view of the regulation proposed by the European Commission, and under discussion in the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, to establish the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which foresees a cut to the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 by €2.7 billion, fully endorses the following recommendations originally published by its member, the British Academy, on 18 February 2015. ALLEA urges those in the European institutions mentioned to work towards amending the EFSI regulation accordingly during the upcoming deliberations:

Boosting job creation and economic recovery in the European Union will not be served by taking money away from funding streams such as Horizon 2020 and the European Research Council. On the contrary, this would undermine our ability to fuel sustainable prosperity and growth by neglecting the substantial contribution that high-quality research and innovation makes to our economy and society. The Commission is cutting the Horizon 2020’s budget by 8.4% in 2016 and 8% in 2017. These are deep and damaging cuts, particularly affecting the Union’s ability to respond to grand challenges and develop excellent research.

We believe that there is a risk of fundamental weaknesses in the EFSI’s governance, accountability and priorities. Firstly, the Fund’s proposed governance indicates a reliance on non-expert civil servants. We recommend that a far more inclusive and decentralised governance structure be introduced. Member States should be empowered to short-list suggested projects to a decision-making body of independent experts, made up predominantly of researchers, and not only those affiliated with the Commission. We would, additionally, strongly recommend the involvement of the President of the European Research Council and its Scientific Council in the decision-making process.

Secondly, as regards accountability we recommend that the Managing Director, the Commission and the European Investment Bank report in person quarterly to the Council and in particular the Budgets; Industry, Research and Energy; and Economic and Monetary Affairs Committees of the European Parliament. We also recommend that the appointment of the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director of the Fund should be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Thirdly, the Investment Plan as announced in December and the Regulation proposing the EFSI’s establishment reflect changing notions of the ESFI’s priorities. We are surprised that the Commission is so vague about the priorities of this instrument at this stage.

We recommend that the Fund focuses on five priorities or principles, which are written into the proposed Regulation aligned with the Europe 2020 strategy. They are: excellent research; education and training initiatives in particular to reduce inequalities; supporting the move to a low carbon economy; sustainable growth-enhancing infrastructure to help fight poverty and social exclusion; and providing working capital and risk financing to SMEs to drive employment.

In addition, we strongly recommend that existing and demonstrably effective delivery mechanisms for funding, such as the European Research Council and Horizon 2020, be used to deliver as much EFSI funding as possible. For example, with excellence in research being one EFSI priority, it is clear the European Research Council should be fully involved in selecting successful projects and in delivering the funding granted.

Click here to download the PDF version of the statement.

Click here to download the original statement issued by the British Academy.

Dame Helen Wallace to be awarded 2015 All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values

Dame Helen WallaceIn honour of her highly respected and extensive scholarly work on political studies and policy in Europe, Dame Helen Wallace will be the second scholar to be awarded the All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values; a prize initiated by ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

Professor Wallace´s research not only offers comprehensive and incisive insights into the political systems of Europe, but is also a powerful contribution towards analysing the complexity of European integration. “Especially in view of the growing scepticism towards European cooperation, it is even more imperative that we honour research such as Dame Helen’s which helps us better understand how European integration can be achieved”, says Professor Günter Stock, ALLEA President and chairman of the prize jury. “Dame Helen has provided us with an invaluable resource in her work. Her personal as well as her scholarly integrity is unwavering and her commitment to European cooperation is undisputed”.

The laureate has served as Foreign Secretary of the British Academy since 2011 and was previously Professor at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Professor Wallace’s research has focused on European politics in nearly every context and region, establishing her reputation as an authority in the field. Her seminal work Policy-Making in the European Union is currently entering its seventh printing. Her advice and consultation is sought after at the highest levels of European policy making.

The All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values is co-sponsored by Stiftung Mercator and endowed with 25,000 EUR. ALLEA established the prize to pay tribute to the boundless intellectual and cultural diversity and richness of Europe, and to highlight how outstanding scholarly work, particularly in the fields of the humanities and social sciences, contributes to the understanding of Europe as a cultural and intellectual entity. The first laureate, Professor Luisa Passerini, received the prize from former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in 2014 to honour her work on European cultural identity.

An official press invitation as well as information on registration and programme details will soon be released.

Click here to download the press release in PDF format.

Click here for more information about the All European Academies Madame de Staël Prize for Cultural Values.