EGU’s response to potential changes to the European Research Council
11 February 2019
A major re-organisation of the European Commission’s Research and Innovation Directorate General is scheduled to take place this year with a goal to revise staff reporting procedures and increased coordination between the agencies. While improved coordination may be of benefit in some areas, concerns have been raised about the potential impact these changes may have on the European Research Council (ERC), the European funding agency for excellence in research that sits within the Directorate but has the distinguishing feature of being independently managed by scientists. We believe this autonomy is a key and critical element of the undisputed success of the ERC, since its creation just over a decade ago. This success has been, in large part, due to the capacity of the agency to listen, act upon, and adjust to the needs of the scientific community. Without this close relationship with the research community, the ERC’s ability to support the very best frontier science will be compromised. Of particular concern, are potential changes in the remit of ERC’s Scientific Council as governing body, which is undoubtedly a cornerstone of the ERC’s credibility, success and international recognition.
The EGU strongly supports the unique ability that the ERC currently has to respond directly and independently to the needs of the scientific community. Being the sole European funding agency for scientists, designed and governed by scientists, has enabled it to become one of the world’s leading and most respected funders of frontier research, with over 70% of completed projects leading to discoveries or major advances. The EGU unequivocally supports the Scientific Council’s ambitions for Horizon Europe to “consolidate the ERC’s success by ensuring its continuity, agility and scale-up in the next framework programme”.
Comments by the geoscience community
“ERC is a great program, and is less overwhelming than other EU programs in terms of paperwork. Keep it simple please, so that we can do some science…”
— Cathy Clerbaux, Senior Scientist at Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS)/Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) and Directeur de Recherche CNRS, Paris
“The ERC program is very respected in the EU and elsewhere for the high quality of the evaluation and freedom of the awarded scientists in managing the funds. It should be maintained as done so far for the benefit and prestige of the European Union.”
— Joan O. Grimalt, Professor of Environmental Chemistry at CSIC, Barcelona