Continuing its effort to increase European research competitiveness and to further reduce the innovation gap between European Union members and the United States, the EU has launched the European Research Council (ERC). According to ERC documents, the Council marks "a new approach to fund research in Europe. Funded through the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the ERC aims to stimulate creativity and scientific excellence in basic research in Europe. The ERC enables open and direct competition for funding between the very best researchers in any field science, engineering, and scholarship on the basis of scientific excellence."

In remarks accompanying the launch of the ERC, Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research, stated, "today is about change: a change in direction, ideas and opportunities." Potocnik also recognized the speed with which the ERC was established, noting that it was proposed in 2004. "In terms of funding," continued Potocnik, "we have to be satisfied, although I still believe we can and should go higher. Nonetheless, not many new organizations are offered a budget of over 1 billion euros per year on average."

Similar to the U.S. National Science Foundation, the new ERC was established to "fund research at the frontiers of science." To achieve this, the ERC will fund investigator-initiated research proposals. Secondly, the ERC will be governed by an independent Scientific Council, not the European Commission.


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