During a conference in Brussels, Michael Barnier, incumbent EUinternal market commissioner, advocated a single EU research policysubstituting all national funding policies. He directly linked thisidea to the CAP asking in his speech “Why haven’t we managedto do for research what we did for agriculture?” This idea is veryremarkable , as Barnier was in the past a major political figure inFrance, serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs under Jacques Chiracand as Minister for Agriculture under Nicolas Sarkozy.
“A personal consideration”
“In big agricultural countries, there is no nationalagricultural budget anymore. We should have the same ambition forthe research area,” stated Barnier. The conference where he heldhis speech was organised to bring stakeholders from researchtogether to discuss the recent green paper on EU research policiesfrom the Commission. This document advises to limit the number ofinstruments to fund research in order to stop overlap between themand urges to improve the coordination of these instruments. Thesemeasures would be taken by 2013, when the next EU budget isdue.
Barnier’s ideas go much further though, proposing one commonresearch policy taking away this responsibility from the national,EU-member governments. In a first comment by an EU official, theEuropean Commission said that “[Barnier] was speaking in a personalconsideration. We are not as a college [of commissioners] puttingany proposals regarding a CAP for research.”
Such a policy shift would be unpopular among member states. Inaddition to that this EU-official mentioned that the EU researchpolicy is primarily the resort of Máire Geoghegan-Quinn,Commissioner for research, innovation and science.
Nevertheless, the necessity of reform is recognized by a numberof stakeholders. The Research Councils UK (RCUK) commented on thegreen paper that “the EU funding landscape is currently extremelycomplicated. A first step in rationalising, the Commission shouldcarry out a thorough mapping of all EU instruments for research andinnovation … to identify overlap, with a view to merging,reducing or adapting them accordingly.”