An EU for scientists, finally

Nieuws | de redactie
17 juli 2012 | While products and people can cross intra EU borders freely and easily, researchers still have a hard time applying in another country, or moving their grants or brains abroad. That is… until today.

The European Commission has todayset out concrete steps Member States should take to achieve theEuropean Research Area (ERA), a Single Market for research andinnovation in Europe. The goal is to enable researchers, researchinstitutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operateacross borders.

No neglecting the knowledgebase

One European Research Area willstrengthen Member States’ research bases, increase theircompetitiveness and allow them to work together more effectively totackle major societal challenges, such as climate change, food andenergy security and public health. To help achieve the EuropeanResearch Area, the European Commission has also today signed aJoint Statement and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) withorganisations representing key research organisations and researchfunding bodies.

European Commissioner for Research,Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “We cannotcontinue with a situation where research funding is not alwaysallocated competitively, where positions are not always filled onmerit, where researchers can rarely take their grants or haveaccess to research programmes across borders, and where large partsof Europe are not even in the game. Talk to any businessleader and they will tell you that the quality of the research baseis a major factor in their investment decisions. In today’seconomy, no Member State or region can afford to neglect itsknowledge base.”


When asked, almost 80% of theresearch community indicated that lack of open and transparentrecruitment hinders international mobility. Member States aretherefore asked to remove barriers to cross-border researchcareers in Europe, step up the pursuit of joint research agendas,enhance competitive funding for institutions and projects andinvest efficiently in world-class facilities.

Research stakeholder organisationsare urged to define and implement principles for accessibility andportability of national grants, to publish job vacancies on acommon internet portal, to fill research positions according totransparent, open and merit-based recruitment procedures and tostep up links between industry and academia.

Plus: openaccess

To complement today’s EuropeanResearch Area proposals, the Commission is also presentingan initiative to promote access to, and preservation of,scientific information. This aims at promoting open access toresearch publications from EU-funded projects, as well as fromnationally funded research (see  IP/12/790and  MEMO/12/565).

The Commission proposals to achievethe European Research Area focus on five key priorities whereprogress needs to be made:

  • increased effectiveness of national research systems
  • improved trans-national cooperation and competition includingestablishing and effectively operating key researchinfrastructures
  • a more open labour market for researchers
  • gender equality and mainstreaming in organisations carrying outand selecting research projects and
  • optimal circulation and transfer of scientific information,including via digital means and broader and more rapid access toscientific publications and data.

For each priority, the Communicationidentifies concrete steps to be taken by Member States, stakeholderorganisations and the European Commission, working together withina reinforced partnership.

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