Monday, October 24, 2005

A Week in Brussels: The grant factory

The blog is late today, but working for the European Commission means long hours. Besides I had to get my internet link set up. So I finally organised access to the wi-fi in the hotel. It is unbelievable what the hotel keepers ask for just one hour access. It looks like they have found another milk cow for their telephone loss leader.

The grant factory

Today I spent the whole day at the grant factory. This is a building in Brussels where proposals are evaluated. It is about 6 years ago that the European Commission assigned this building as the centre for the many grant evaluation activities. Annually the European Commission hands out billions of euro for grants, which have to bring Europe in a leading position in several fields. This ideal is labelled the Lissabon declaration. It refers to the very ambitious plan to make Europe leading in many fields by 2010. In the meantime it has become clear that the Lissabon declaration cannot be executed and has been toned down. It has in parts been replaced by other overall programmes such as the less ambitious i2010.

Opposite the grant factory is a baroque church

In the grant factory, dreams are made or broken. Institutions like universities and libraries come back quite often for grants as they are more and more dependent on this type of money. Many of these institutions have professionals writing the proposals. And it is hard to get inm for newcomers.

The assignment usually means a full week or sometimes two weeks of work with early starts and late finishes. Of course while the officials have you available they might as well use you to the fullest. There are also strict house rules: no laptop, no mobile. It looks like going back to the time of the scribes and monks.

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