The presidents and chairpersons of Europe's research organisations, known as the European Union Research Organisations Heads Of Research Councils (EUROHORCs), under the leadership of the current president, Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), have agreed on the key principles for the foundation of a European Research Council. In this document, the current 37 presidents from 20 European countries declare that the concept of an agency to support basic research, a European Research Council, must form a cornerstone of the European Research Area. The ERC is intended to help secure Europe's competitive global position in science and research. A future ERC must include all areas of research, i.e., the humanities and social sciences as well as the natural sciences, medicine and engineering. A future ERC must have a constitution establishing its authority to act autonomously and to develop its own criteria for structures, procedures and decisions, independent of the European Commission and of government agencies. The sole criterion for funding decisions by the ERC must be scientific excellence, determined on the basis of a peer review system by highly respected, well-established experts.
The EUROHORCs are publishing these principles now because the prospects for the funding of basic research by an organisation established outside the European Commission as part of the 7th Framework Programme for 20062010 are now quite good. An important step by the European Commission was its statement of priorities for the 7th Framework Programme in mid-June, in which one of the six major objectives was the funding of basic research through a competition of excellence within the framework of an agency yet to be defined in detail. In November the Council of Ministers will issue a detailed resolution, which will then be incorporated into the preparations for the 7th Framework Programme in 2005.
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Contact: Christoph Muehlberg
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