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The European Research Area (ERA) is a single research area that is a platform designed to group and strengthen research efforts at EU level by coordinating them with national and international initiatives.
What is ERA?
The European Research Area (ERA) is 20 years old. It is a single space or platform whose ambition is to group and strengthen research efforts at EU level and coordinate it with national and international initiatives. The ERA covers the system of scientific research programs and thus integrates the resources devoted by the European Union to support research and innovation.
According to the definition of the Lisbon Treaty (2007), the ERA is a single research area open to the world and based on a free internal market, thus allowing the free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge and technology.
From idea to realization
The need to create a European Research Area was officially announced in 2000 in a communication from the European Commission entitled "Towards a European Research Area". It expressed a vision of a developed, functional and interconnected research space from which barriers to mutual cooperation would disappear. The ultimate goal of the ERA is to be for European research and innovation cooperation what is the EU single market and its 4 freedoms for trade cooperation.
The main motive of this initiative was to increase European competitiveness, improve the coordination of research activities at national and European level, develop human resources and increase the attractiveness of European research for the best researchers from around the world. A true single market for knowledge, research and innovation will enable researchers, institutions and businesses to be mobile, compete and collaborate across borders, increasing growth potential.
The year 2000, when the concept was officially adopted by the EU Council, marked the beginning of a long-term process of building this EU's single market for research and innovation, which remains a living process to this day. The adoption of the ERA concept has changed the direction of the following EU Framework Programs for Research and Innovation, which have become the most important tool for putting the ERA into practice. The Sixth and Seventh Framework Programs and all related new research initiatives have been designed to be a key tool for building this common space and overcoming the fragmentation of European research ecosystems. To this end, too, the Europe 2020 Strategy and its flagship initiative Innovation Union were adopted in 2010, with the 8th Framework Program, Horizon 2020 (2014-2020), becoming a key implementation.
The legal basis for the creation of the European Research Area can be found in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Article 179):
"Union action shall aim to strengthen its scientific and technical base through the creation of a European Research Area in which scientists, scientific knowledge and technology move freely and to increase its competitiveness, including the competitiveness of its industry, by supporting all research activities deemed necessary. other chapters of the Treaties. "
- ERA: Overview
- History of ERA
The ERA Partnership is a label for a set of measures suitable for the completion of the European Research Area.
The ERA currently has 6 priority areas defined, which need to be taken into account in the process of its implementation and on the basis of which its progress can be monitored. These priorities are:
1. More efficient national research systems - includes the objectives of increasing national competitiveness and ensuring stable or increased investment in research;
2. Optimal transnational cooperation and competition - identification and implementation of joint research programs on major (societal) challenges, quality enhancement through Europe-wide open competition and efficient construction and management of key research infrastructures at Europe level;
3. Open labor market for researchers - aim to ensure that barriers to mobility, training and attractive scientific careers are removed;
4. Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research - the aim of ending the loss of valuable talented women and diversifying perspectives or approaches in research, as well as promoting excellence.
5. Optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge - including through digital ERA - so that everyone has access to scientific knowledge.
6. international cooperation
These 6 priorities have been formulated by the European Commission based on an analysis of the performance and effectiveness of European research and stakeholder consultations.
Partnership with EU Member States and Associated Countries
The partnership between the EU Member States, the countries associated with Horizon 2020 and the European Commission is represented by the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC). ERAC is a strategic policy advisory committee that advises the Council of the EU, the European Commission and the Member States on the full range of research and innovation issues in the management of ERA and has several continual or ad hoc working groups.
The process of building the European Research Area is also accompanied by a regular renewal of commitments and objectives by the Member States and the European Commission.
In 2007, the European Commission published a Green Paper, a document that stimulated policy debate and called for an end to the fragmentation of the European research ecosystem. It launched a new political partnership between the European Commission and the Member States called the Ljubljana Process, determined to reduce fragmentation and build a strong ERA.
ERA road map
The process of building ERA has been strengthened by the preparation of the ERA Roadmap. The Roadmap is a strategy to facilitate and strengthen the joint efforts committed by the Member States.
In 2014, the EU Competitiveness Council called for an ERA roadmap proposing concrete measures to move forward. Member States responded to this request by elaborating it through the ERA and the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) and in cooperation with other ERA working groups, the European Commission and most of the European organizations involved in the common platform.
In May 2015, the ERA Roadmap for 2015-2020 was adopted by the conclusions of the EU Competitiveness Council. The roadmap has been designed as a living document to identify a set of key priorities that need to be implemented and which are considered to have the greatest impact on European science, research and innovation systems.
You can read about the renewed ERA model and its priorities for the years 2020-2030 in the "Future of ERA" tab.
An unique monitoring mechanism has been developed to monitor the progress of ERA implementation.
The state of ERA and the progress made in implementing ERA has been assessed since 2013. The results of these assessments have been published in ERA Progress Reports (editions 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2018). These reports are currently biennial.
Since 2016, progress has been measured at country level, using the ERA monitoring mechanism - a set of 24 indicators jointly defined in 2015 by Member States, research stakeholders and the European Commission. They include eight main and 16 secondary indicators.
The reports monitor developments in each of the six identified ERA priorities in each country.
More information on ERA progress reports.
The complexity of creating large research infrastructures requires a concerted effort by Member States. To this end, the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) and its roadmap have been set up, which are an important tool for achieving a coordinated approach to research infrastructure policy-making.
One of the most common obstacles to the creation of European research infrastructures is the lack of an adequate legal framework allowing for the establishment of appropriate partnerships between different countries. This call was addressed through the creation of the European Research Infrastructures Consortium (ERIC). This legal framework is a key initiative for the implementation of the ERA, as it facilitates the creation of consortia of Member States and other countries to build and use research facilities of pan-European interest.
- ERA Portal Slovakia: Research Infrastructures in Horizon 2020
- European Commission: Research Infrastructures in Horizon 2020
- ESFRI - European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures
Human resources and mobility
Gender Equality in Research
Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research is one of the 6 main priorities of the ERA - the aim is to end the loss of valuable talent from women and to diversify perspectives or approaches in research, always respecting the principle of excellence.
The regular publication of the "She Figures" report shows that the number of women in category A has increased in recent years in all EU Member States. Nevertheless, women scientists are still under-represented in leadership and decision-making positions.
More information in the Gender Equality in Research section.
Open science and inovations
Research and innovation partnerships The European Research and Innovation Partnerships are divided into 2 basic categories in Horizon 2020, depending on the actors that make up these partnerships:
Partnerships include both Member States' initiatives and initiatives strongly supported by the European Commission and Horizon 2020, as well as partnerships between public agencies and private-public alliances. Over the years, there has been a significant expansion of tools and initiatives aimed at coordinating, cooperating and harmonizing national programs and strategies, in terms of their number and the development of different types of internal functioning.
Important note: A key innovation of the Horizon Europe program (2021 - 2027) is the simplification and rationalization of the partnership system by dividing them into 3 groups with uniform operating rules. This step is necessary due to too many initiatives and their complex system of internal operation. Information on upcoming changes, including changes to the partnership system, can be found in the Horizon Europe section.
1. Public sector partnerships
Public-Public Partnerships (P2Ps) are a tool of Horizon 2020 for creating partnerships between public sector actors (ministries, research funding bodies, or other public entities) through co-financing of programs. Activities may also include complementary activities, such as networking or coordination between national research programs of different countries.
Public-private partnerships should aim to create closer synergies, increase coordination and avoid unnecessary duplication with Union research programs and international, national and regional research programs, and should fully respect the general principles of Horizon 2020, in particular the principles of openness and transparency. Public-sector partnerships include networks supported by the European Commission, such as ERA-NETs and initiatives under Article 185 TFEU (TFEU), as well as initiatives led by Member States, such as Joint Programming Initiatives.
According to their way of working, public sector partnerships are divided into several types in Horizon 2020:
- ERA-NET Cofund
- Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Cofund
- Initiatives under Art. 185 TFEU
- EJP Cofund (Joint European Programs)
- JPI (Joint Programming Initiatives)
- PCP Cofund; PPI Cofund (Procurement of Innovative Solutions)
An overview of the most important types of public sector partnerships can be found on the ERA-LEARN portal.
2. Public-private partnerships
Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) are the second basic category of European research and innovation partnerships. It brings together private sector partners, the European Union and (as appropriate) other partners who jointly undertake to jointly support the development and implementation of research and innovation programs or activities.
Within Horizon 2020, we distinguish 2 types of public-private partnerships:
- Contractual Public-Private Partnerships (cPPPs)
- Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs), known as Joint Undertakings (JUs) operating under Art. 187 TFEU
An overview of public-private partnerships can be found on the ERA-LEARN portal.
3. Other relevant tools and initiatives
Other tools relevant to building the ERA are:
- European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs)
- European Technology Platforms (ETPs)
- Knowledge and Innovation Communities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs))
- Flag projects in the field of Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagships
- EUREKA intergovernmental network
- COST - European Cooperation in Science and Technology Program
An overview of these tools can be found on the portal ERA-LEARN.
The European Research and Innovation Partnerships are divided into 2 basic categories in Horizon 2020, depending on the actors that make up these partnerships:
Preparation of a new paradigm and priorities of the ERA for the period 2020-2030
At its plenary session, held in Brussels on 17 December 2019, the ERAC Committee adopted an opinion on the future of the ERA for the next decade. This opinion was based on a comprehensive report by the ERAC Ad Hoc Working Group, composed of national experts from EU Member States and Associated Countries, which has worked intensively on this issue over the previous 6 months.
The report presents a new ERA model, which is based on the principles of inclusiveness, relevance, effectiveness and visibility of the ERA.
Based on the renewed ERA Narrative, the ERAC opinion for the future of the ERA proposes four main priorities:
1. Improving the framework conditions for the creation, dissemination and exploitation of knowledge in Europe, with a special focus on issues of transnational cooperation and European careers in research;
2. Joint action on research and innovation at European / transnational level with other policy areas, with a special focus on sustainable development goals, including international cooperation;
3. Increasing the importance and visibility of research, development and innovation for society;
4. Ensuring a broad inclusion of research and innovation in Europe, focusing on a more synchronized coevolution of research and innovation systems, facilitating collaboration and brain circulation.
- Final report of the ERAC Ad-hoc Working Group for the preparation of ERA for the years 2020-2030
- Output 1 Possibilities of a new paradigm about the future of ERA
- Output 2 Future objectives and priorities of the ERA
The European Commission will now use the ERAC opinion to prepare its Communication on the new European Research Area, due in mid-2020.