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Help us make research in Europe more European, say researchers

Careers and mobility, international co-operation, research infrastructures, joint programming and knowledge sharing are today's main concerns of European research actors, according to a report just published by the European Commission. The report draws on over 1000 responses to a public consultation on the Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives" published in April 2007. The responses show strong overall support to further consolidate the European Research Area through new and more ambitious actions at all levels in the EU – regional, national and transnational.

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"The Seventh Framework Programme 2007-2013 with a total budget of €54 billion for European research is now in full swing, but the public consultation shows this is not enough. Structural weaknesses prevent Europe from exploiting the full potential of its overall research capability and require further action either at national or European levels, or both. We must sustain our efforts to realise the European Research Area (ERA). At an informal meeting last week, research ministers reaffirmed the fundamental role of ERA as an engine for driving the competitiveness of Europe. They also acknowledged that Europe now needs to develop a common vision and a better political governance of ERA," said the European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik.

The consultation results show that the original ERA objectives remain valid and relevant, but that action remains needed on the issues raised by the ERA Green Paper. Most respondents deem “sharing knowledge” and “developing world-class research infrastructures” most important, the former placed top by universities, research funding organisations and NGOs and the latter by industry and governmental bodies. “Researchers' careers and mobility”, “international cooperation” and “infrastructures” were identified as the three most important in terms of need for action at EU level.

European Research Area - ERA

Respondents also draw attention to crucial interactions between research, education and innovation. Virtually all of the responses from Member States emphasise the need to consider the role of industry in ERA and its links to wider innovation and education policy. Industry itself regrets that the Green Paper focused more on challenges to public research systems and not enough on the central roles of private R&D within ERA and of the linkages between research and innovation.

Respondents endorse the use of a variety of instruments to promote ERA – financial incentives, increased EU budget, co-ordination and guidelines. While there is little demand for binding legislation, there is significant support for considering legislative action to improve the careers and mobility of researchers, as well as for a new non-binding legal framework for pan-European research infrastructures.

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/pm/help-us-make-research-in-europe-more-european-say-researchers