Dear President, Dear Ministers,
I would like to thank all delegations, and in particular Minister Sherlock and his team, for their continued efforts over the last five months on the Horizon 2020 package.
We have now entered a decisive phase in the negotiations. The different components of Horizon 2020 have been thoroughly discussed between representatives of the three institutions. And I am glad that we have an opportunity to discuss again today.
I am very pleased that the Presidency – and the Parliament – still aim at an agreement in first reading. An agreement as early as possible would indeed ensure a smooth and timely start to Horizon 2020.
I welcome the State of Play presented by the Presidency, which identifies three critical issues.
I note in particular that simplification and effectiveness is prominent among them. For years, the Commission has been urged by all the stakeholders, the scientific community, industry and all institutions, including the Court of Auditors, to simplify. I think the Commission, the Council and the Parliament are in agreement on the need to provide a more streamlined, efficient programme. A programme that cuts red tape and time to grant – one that encourages participation, especially that of newcomers, including those of the EU-12, and industry.
This is why the Commission has proposed a radical simplification, including a simplified funding model. Let me stress that this is not about simplification for the Commission, but about simplifying the lives of those who apply to and participate in our projects.
The funding model has been the topic of some discussion among ourselves last year and again in recent weeks, in particular the issue of indirect costs. We are working on a satisfactory solution to this, and I would like to point out that yesterday, following a detailed analysis of best practices and concrete cases, we have issued a non- paper about the main principles of the future guidelines on the direct costing of large infrastructures.
But let me be clear that the Commission could not support a model that would re-introduce complexity by the back door, by means of a full cost option.
I am pleased that Member States share this objective of across-the-board simplification. And I am extremely grateful that the Presidency, with your backing, is firmly defending the simplified funding model. Be assured of my full support.