The European Research Area

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The European Research Area (ERA) is a political concept of the EU. It comprises all research and development activities, programmes and policies within Europe with a transnational perspective. More and more researchers, research institutions and businesses co-operate and compete across borders. A Europe-wide open space for knowledge and technologies is the aim. This will help to fully exploit transnational synergies and complementarities. The European Research Area (ERA) aims to enhance the coordination between Member States and the European Commission regarding research and development measures at programme and project level.

With the Treaty of Lisbon, the realisation of ERA has been anchored in primary legislation. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states in Section 1 in article 179: “The Union shall have the objective of strengthening its scientific and technological bases by achieving a European research area in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely, and encouraging it to become more competitive, including in its industry, while promoting all the research activities deemed necessary by virtue of other Chapters of the Treaties."

Already in the year 2000, the Commission published a communication entitled "Towards a European Research Area". Since then this has become a guiding principle for the EU research policy and also for its main instrument, the EU Framework Programmes for Research. With the Ljubljana Process the Member States, associated countries, the Commission and stakeholders created an enhanced partnership in order to drive forward European research. It was launched in May 2008 and led to 5 ERA initiatives.

  • Joint Programming
  • Research Infrastructures
  • Labour Market for Researchers
  • Knowledge Transfer
  • International Cooperation

On 17 July 2012, the European Commission adopted the Communication on "A Reinforced European Research Area partnership for Growth and Jobs". It defined 5 adapted ERA priorities:

  • More effective national research systems
  • Optimal transnational co-operation and competition
  • An open labour market for researchers
  • Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  • Optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge including via digital ERA

The international dimension of ERA was dealt with in a separate communication. On 14 September 2012, the European Commission has adopted a strategy with the title "Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: a strategic approach" (COM(2012) 497). It outlines a new strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, particularly with regard to the implementation of Horizon 2020, the next Framework Programme on Research and Innovation.

More information regarding this Communication can be found here: Commission Communication on International Cooperation in Reseach and Innovation

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