A European Commission Communication and accompanying Commission staff working document on a new European Research Area (ERA) were published on 30 September. The ERA was launched in 2000 with the aim to harmonise the EU’s research and innovation system, as formulated in the communication, the ERA “aims at building a common scientific and technological area for the EU. Creating a single market for research and innovation fostering free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and innovation, and encouraging a more competitive European industry. This involves restructuring the European research landscape towards more cross-border cooperation, continent-wide competition, building of critical mass and coordination, and the improvement of national research policies and systems.”
Since then the ERA has seen achievements but progress towards several ERA objectives has been considered too slow, therefore a vision for a stronger ERA for the future is proposed. In the communication the Commission proposes a new vision which is based on four strategic objectives and 14 actions on national and EU levels to accomplish the objectives, in brief:
1) Prioritising investments and reforms
- Action 1: Member States re-affirm the target of 3% EU GDP R&D investment, including a new 1.25% EU GDP public effort target by 2030.
- Action 2: Member States target to commit 5% of national public R&D funding to joint programmes and European partnerships by 2030.
2) Improving access to excellence
- Action 3: Member States lagging behind the EU average research and innovation investments to increase their investments by 50% in the next 5 years.
- Action 4: Member States lagging behind the EU average on highly cited publications should reduce the gap to the EU average by at least one third in the next 5 years.
3) Translating R&I results into the economy
- Action 5: developing common industrial technology roadmaps by the end of 2022 to align and link key partnerships under Horizon Europe with industrial ecosystems.
- Action 6: develop and test a networking framework in support of Europe’s R&I ecosystems, building on existing capacities, in order to strengthen excellence and maximise the value of knowledge creation, circulation and use by 2022.
- Action 7: Update and develop guiding principles for knowledge valorisation and a code of practice for the smart use of intellectual property.
4) Deepening the ERA
- Action 8: deliver, by the end of 2024, a toolbox of support for researchers careers to make Europe more attractive for talent.
- Action 9: launch a platform of peer-reviewed open access publishing and incentivise open science practices by improving the research assessment system.
- Action 10: support a world-class research infrastructures ecosystem and establish a new governance structure for Technology Infrastructures.
- Action 11: develop a roadmap of actions for creating synergies between higher education and research, notably building on the dual role of universities.
- Action 12: develop from 2021 onwards inclusive gender equality plans with Member States and stakeholders in order to promote EU gender equality in R&I.
- Action 13: organise Europe-wide participatory citizen science campaigns, crowdsourcing platforms and pan-European hackathons, in particular in the context of Horizon Europe Missions and open up science and innovation to citizens and youth.
- Action 14: building on the lessons learned from the Horizon Europe Strategic Planning process, develop with Member States an approach to set and implement strategic priorities that deliver on the ERA agenda through the European Forum of Transition and by means of a Pact for R&I in Europe.
The European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) will continue to offer strategic policy advise on topics related to research and innovation within the European Research Area.
One of the implementation tools of the ERA is the Horizon Europe part “Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area”. The work programme for the period 2021-2022 is currently under discussion in a Commission Expert Group, more specifically the shadow Strategic Configuration of the Horizon Europe Programme Committee, and publication of the work programme is foreseen for early 2021.
Together with the ERA communication the Commisson adopted a Communication on the European Education Area and a new Digital Education Action Plan.
European Commission “a new ERA” press release
European Commission website: European Research Area
Relates news article
Public consultation on European Commission European Research Area (ERA) roadmap