The Finance-NMS-IST project has now launched the Financial Helpdesk Portal, www.finance-helpdesk.org . This Portal will initially service IST organisations from the New Member States.
The Finance-NMS-IST project is coordinated by EFP Consulting – a company with in depth skills in the rules and regulations of the Framework Program with experience going back to 1984 and the original ESPRIT program.
Mr Myer Morron, EFP Consulting CEO ‘Just because you have read the Highway Code does not mean you can drive, we saw a gap in the services and information available to interpret the financial guidelines.’
As is written in the Marimon and Gago Reports, this facility is long overdue.
In the ‘Five Year Assessment of IST Research and Technology Development’ by Professor Gago the impact of the New Instruments on the New Member States is highlighted; ‘…The New Instruments, although necessary to cope with international competition ,have had the marked effect of excluding SMEs and the Accession States (now New Member States)…’. ‘…The relatively low degree of participation by Accession Countries (roughly one-sixteenth of the total) is due partly to their lower involvement at the application stage (one-quarter that of EU-15 per head of population), and partly to the lower average retention rate of projects in which they are involved (one half of EU-15). In terms of grant finance awarded, those countries received 8% of total funding, compared with 85% received by EU-15…’. ‘…possible improvements could take place especially in proposal preparation …(in the … financial rules governing the project (e.g. flexibility to shift funds within chapters of budget or members of projects). The creation of a Commission help-desk in support of SMEs and non-profit organisations for the preparation and negotiation of projects was also suggested…’
In the Marimon Report which addresses the ‘Evaluation of the effectiveness of the new instruments of Framework Programme VI’, Professor Marimon concludes that ‘…Administrative procedures and financial rules should be significantly simplified and further improved to allow more efficiency and flexibility in implementing participation instruments…’ and that ‘…The Financial Regulation and the way it is used should be revised in order to ensure a service-minded approach is feasible. Further simplification is needed to allow for projects, valued on a general cost-based form, to be given enough flexibility regarding the final allocation of expenses. Assistance on such matters could be channelled through a specialised help desk…’