An expert group established as part of the Seventh Framework Programme's (FP7) has published a new report containing several key recommendations for the future of EU research policy. Since October 2010, the Synergies Expert Group (SEG) has been analysing how EU research policy should be aligned across the main European research policy framework programmes and actions.

With the keyword being "synergy," the taskforce set out to develop "synergies in practice" for the current programming period, as well as to explore how research and development (R&D) can be enhanced in the future. The philosophy behind synergy is one of joining the dots to ensure that policies are aligned and do not overlap.

In its report, the group found that innovation policies at EU level are fragmented and that coordination of research and innovation, as well as cohesion policies at European, national and regional levels, both within and between these levels, is suboptimal. Other problems include weak complementarities and compatibilities, as well as interoperability of policies and programmes, particularly regarding the regional dimension in research and innovation policy, and the research and innovation dimension in regional policy.

The group recommends that the Structural Funds could be better exploited for innovative public procurement and demonstrations projects, and thus for better support of the "smart growth" objective. In addition, they advise using the European Social Fund (ESF) to promote greater synergies between education and innovation programmes by making it more innovation oriented. Another key point of the SEG report is the need to ensure that the regional aspect of research remains at the top of the EU policy agenda.