The European Commission adopted two important policy papers: on completing the European Research Area (ERA) - a single market for research and innovation in Europe - and on opening access to scientific information funded by the EU. The aim is to boost Europe's innovation capacity and to address major societal challenges more effectively.
European Research Area
The European Commission set out concrete steps that Member States should undertake to enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and cooperate across borders. The proposals are focused on five priorities:
- More effective national research systems – ensuring that funding is allocated on a competitive basis to the best and most productive researchers and research teams;
- Improved transnational co-operation and competition – removing the technical barriers for joint actions, raising quality through Europe-wide open competition, and constructing and managing pan-European key research infrastructures;
- An open labour market for researchers – ensuring free movement of researchers in the EU by making research grants and pensions portable across borders and ensuring that recruitment to academic positions is fair, transparent and merit-based;
- Gender equality and mainstreaming in organisations carrying out and selecting research projects and;
- Broader and faster access to scientific papers and data - including via digital means (see details below)
To help achieve the European Research Area, the Commission has signed a Joint Statement and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with organisations representing key European research organisations and research funding bodies.
The deadline for the completion of the European Research Area set by EU leaders is 2014.
Open Access to Scientific Information
The European Commission outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe. Broader and more rapid access to scientific papers and data will make it easier for researchers and businesses to build on the findings of publically funded research. This should boost Europe's innovation capacity and give European taxpayers more return on EU and national investments in R&D (€87 billion annually).
As a first step, the Commission will make open access to research results a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU's Research and Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible:
- articles will either immediately be made accessible online by the publisher ('Gold' open access) - up-front publication costs can be eligible for reimbursement by the European Commission; or
- researchers will make their articles available through an open access repository no later than six months (12 months for articles in the fields of social sciences and humanities) after publication ('Green' open access).
The Commission has also recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own domestic programmes. The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016.
The Commission will also start experimenting with open access to the data collected during publicly funded research (e.g. the numerical results of experiments), taking into account legitimate concerns related to the fundee's commercial interests or to privacy.
For further information, please see the links below:
Press Release - European Research Area
Memo (Q&A) - European Research Area
EC Communication: A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth
European Research Area Website
Press Release - Open Access to Scientific Data
Memo (Q&A) - Open Access to Scientific Data
EC Communication: Towards Better Access to scientific information: Boosting the benefits of public investments in research
Commissioner Kroes' blog on open access