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Simplify research funding further

There is still a need to simplify EU funding for research after 2020, according to a new Briefing Paper from the European Court of Auditors. The paper was prepared for the European Parliament and the Council as input to their discussions on the successor to Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme.

The auditors focus on simplification. They have previously pointed out that an over-complex legal framework could hinder the efficient implementation of research programmes. For Horizon 2020, they distinguish two ways of removing unnecessary complexity: rewriting the basic legal rules and/or creating a simpler interface adapted to researchers’ real-life circumstances.

But simplification is complicated, say the auditors. They describe some of the dilemmas affecting the European Commission’s efforts and link these to the design of the regulatory framework for research, the funding model and the participation scheme.

Horizon 2020 is complex due to its range of regulations, rules, guidelines, procedures and processes for implementation and the multitude of its funding instruments”, said Alex Brenninkmeijer, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the Briefing Paper, “and unnecessary complexity brings risk.”