USF declaration to the COCORE of March 2016
Dear Mr Loescher, Thank you for your declaration on the JRC Strategy 2030.1 would like to address a few points raised in it.
You rightly point out that the primary legal basis for the JRC is the EURATOM Treaty which is in force since 1957. In addition, JRC is part of the Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation (currenly Horizon 2020) where its objectives and scientific activities are clearly spelled out. Including the JRC in the portfolio of the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports emphasises its horizontal nature to support EU policies with scientific evidence, and President Juncker invited Commissioner Navracsics in his mission letter to further strengthen this capacity. The proposed strategy is aligned with all these elements.
In the recent years JRC faced a number of challenges which drove the need for a longer-term comprehensive strategy for the development of the organisation. The budget of JRC has been significantly decreased in Horizon 2020 compared to previous Framework Programmes. The JRC contributed to the Commissions part of the European Fund for Strategic Investment with €50 million euro, which further decreased its budget. Further reductions could be expected in the next budgetary period.
Furthermore, the efficiency review of Vice-President Georgieva called on the JRC to take on new functions, namely complement knowledge production (which remains JRC’s core business) with management of knowledge and competences. These new functions have to be implemented with the current level of staff.
In light of all these, there was a need for JRC to have a longer-term vision for its development. This refers not only to its scientific activities but also to recruitment and staff policy, management of budget and infrastructure, partnerships, etc. The need for alignment of all these elements was indeed also recognised by the Evaluation Panel of the JRC direct actions during FP7 who recommended that JRC establishes a long-term strategy before the mid-term evaluation of Horizon 2020.
The Strategy clearly states that recruitment, development and care of staff remain central to the JRC. The strategy does not prescribe a ratio between permament and temporary staff, foresees a flexible and people-centric human resource policy, designed to also strengthen JRC’s competence base. Regarding infrastructure, the strategy calls for efficient, coherent and consolidated management of site, scientific and ICT infrastructure taking into account their specificities.
Finally, I consider that your document was meant to be the USF input to the meeting of COCORE of the 8 March 2016. Unfortunately, I did not receive it until the 10 March 2016. I trust that the meeting of COCORE further clarified various aspects of the JRC Strategy for you.