The European Union should double its annual research budget, cut red tape, and decide who gets basic research funding purely on the basis of excellence, not political agendas, the European Commission said today (June 16).

Those recommendations, which echo the demands often made by scientists themselves, were proposed by research commissioner Philippe Busquin and others in a new document designed to trigger discussions in preparation for the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), which will run from 2007 to 2013.

"The debate on the future of research in Europe has been launched," Busquin said. "Scientific research and technological development are key to the future of Europe because they generate more than half of economic growth and determine Europe's political weight on the international scene."

The commission's proposals would mean a major overhaul of aspects of the EU research funding system. Its top line is a doubling of funding to an average...

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