On 18 November 2020, German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Markus Buchheit of the Identity and Democracy Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“Following the closure of research laboratories in March, many Marie Curie fellows were left with nothing as their EU fellowships ended and were not renewed.
What does the Commission intend to do to again provide these promising young researchers with sufficient and reasonable funding for their planned research which they were forced to interrupt?”
On 12 February 2021, Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission has proposed many solutions to the researchers involved in the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions (MSCA). This includes extending research periods and allowing as much flexibility as possible in the implementation of their projects. In case laboratory work was interrupted, project tasks could be reorganised and postponed. MSCA fellows have been encouraged to focus on desk research, meetings, training, publications through telework or other activities planned that did not involve presence in the laboratory. The Commission allowed projects to continue even when laboratories were closed. MSCA researchers could be paid even if they could not, due to the nature of their research, work on the premises of the host institutions.
The existing legal framework does not allow for an increase of the maximum grant amount. Even if projects are prolonged the maximum grant amount cannot be increased.
Article 195(b) of the Financial Regulation allows for awarding a grant without a call for proposals in case of ‘duly substantiated emergencies’. As a result, the Commission has been able to increase the budget of a very small number of ongoing grants for additional activities whose scope could immediately contribute to the efforts for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget of these grants could only be increased because they were directly looking for solutions to the COVID-19 situation. They were not increased because they were affected by the COVID-19 situation.
The Commission is in regular contact with the MSCA fellows affected by the crisis to find solutions adapted to each of them and monitors the situation, notably with the support of the Marie Curie Alumni Association.”
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/laboratory-test-cure-vaccine-5722327/