The European Court of Auditors (ECA) recently issued a special report entitled “Has the Commission ensured efficient implementation of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research?”. The ECA assessed whether the Commission has ensured efficient implementation of FP7. The audit covered the rules for participation, the Commission’s processes and the setting-up of two new instruments, and its results are likely to be useful not only for the remaining period of FP7, but also for the operational setup of the next research Framework Programme - Horizon 2020.
The report found that although the European Commission has taken a number of steps to bolster its management of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), researchers seeking FP7 funding are however faced with unnecessary inconsistencies.
Accordingly the ECA recommended:
a) Regarding rules for participation, the Commission should make further efforts to ensure that beneficiaries’ practices can be used in Horizon 2020 and manage FP7 in a more consistent manner;
b) To strengthen process management, the Commission should deploy IT tools which will integrate all functionalities and it should examine the imbalances in staff workload;
c) To reduce processing times, the Commission should make sure that the processes are automated and implemented consistently across its services;
d) The Commission should make its control activities before and after payment more risk-driven, so as to better focus its control effort; and
e) The EU Council, European Parliament and the Commission should bring the legal framework of the Joint Technology Initiatives more into line with their staff complement. To maximise the impact of the Risk Sharing Finance Facility, the Commission should demonstrate that it targets those beneficiaries which have limited access to finance.
For further information and to read the special report in full, please click here.