In her hearing at the European Parliament on 13 January 2010, the European Commissioner designate for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, pledged to move research, innovation and science 'to the heart of European policy'.
Speaking to the European Parliament's committees on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and Culture and Education (CULT), the new Commissioner designate said that the European Union must become an Innovation Union. 'Knowledge, research and scientific excellence is a cornerstone of innovation,' she stated. 'In the new economy, refined knowledge will replace crude oil as the economy's prime motive force.'
Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said that if approved as Commissioner, her policies would focus on three main areas: completing the creation of the European Research Area (ERA), addressing societies' grand challenges, and creating an innovation research culture. She also highlighted the importance of bringing more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into the EU's research programmes, and leveraging additional EU funds, such as the Structural Funds, for research.
If approved by the parliament, Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn would be the first EU Research Commissioner to have 'innovation' added to her job title.
Until recently, Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn was a Member of the European Court of Auditors. She stated that procedures were already considerably simpler and shorter than in the past. Pointing out that research funds are public money, she said: 'I don't want to do anything that will compromise sound financial management.' Nevertheless, she admitted that more could be done, and noted, 'If we have less rules, we have less errors.'
The hearings of the Commissioners designate began on 12 January and will run until 19 January. The European Parliament will vote on the new Commission on 26 January.
More information you'll find in the cordis news and the European Parliament's hearings website. For a full CV please visit the European Commission website on the Commissioners designate.
The Commission intends to publish in 2010 a new strategic plan for EU actions related to nanotechnologies in the next five years.
A Public Consultation is currently open in which experts as well as the public at large are invited to give their views on the needs for such EU action. This consultation as well as more detailed information on it is accessible here.
One of the conditions for use of subcontractors is that "the beneficiary must ensure that the subcontractor can be audited by the Commission or the Court of Auditors" (Guide to Financial Issues relating to FP7 Indirect Actions Version 02/04/2009 – page 26).
Until last year, even though the provision was there, the Commission did not audit subcontractors – unless there were special circumstances. Now however, things are changing and the Commission has started to audit Subcontractors.
The Finance Helpdesk provides a leaflet on the use of subcontractors in FP7 which is available on their site, registration provided.
The Finance Helpdesk points out that the European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has invited individuals, companies, NGOs, associations and other interested persons to participate in a public consultation concerning the European Commission's late payment problems.
During the current investigation into the Commission's late payment problems, the Commission announced new measures to improve the situation, such as stricter time limits and an increased use of lump sum payments.
In the Ombudsman's view, the Commission has, during the past few years, made progress in this front. Further improvements could, however, be envisaged. Before any further steps are taken, the Ombudsman is keen to receive feedback from concerned parties about what the Commission can and should, in their view, do further to reduce late payments.
Note: the aim of the public consultation is not to solve individual late payment cases. Such cases can be submitted to the Ombudsman as individual complaints, using the on-line form available on the Ombudsman’s website.
Contributions to this public consultation may be submitted by 31 March 2010 in any of the 23 official languages.
The Ombudsman's invitation to submit comments is available