Thumbs up for European Research Area

A preliminary analysis of the European Commission’s public consultation on the future of the European Research Area (ERA) has shown that there is widespread support for ERA among stakeholders;
while the online consultation on the ERA is completed, discussion of the topic continues at a high-level conference in Lisbon, ending on 10 October 2007.

The submissions received in online as well as through a free format – approximately 800 contributions from universities (6%), research institutions (4.8%), commercial organisations (3.6%),
non-governmental organisations (6%) and individuals (70%) from all over Europe – ‘provide ideas on how to reinforce and extend the ERA’, the European Commission says.

By and large, six priority areas which had already been suggested by the Commission were confirmed by the analysis of the data. Informants highlighted the following points:

– knowledge sharing:
– – 80% of stakeholders suggested that raw data resulting from publicly funded research and scientific publication should be made more readily accessible free of charge;
– – clear rules should be set up to promote knowledge transfer between research institutions and the industry;

– researchers:
– – facilitating mobility;
– – better implementation of European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for their recruitment;
– – transferability of pension rights, insurance and benefits;

– research infrastructures:
– – development of pan-European infrastructures;
– – leadership to be taken at EU level;

– research institutions:
– – improvement of excellence and competitiveness through rewarding funding on a competitive basis;
– – establishing stronger links with businesses;

– research programmes:
– – simplification of funding rules and procedures;
– – closer collaboration in identifying future research challenges at EU level;
– – closer cooperation between public national research programmes in order to address resource-intensive and complex scientific challenges (77%);

– international cooperation:
– – 80% of respondents said closer cooperation between the EU and member states was needed in order to enhance coordination at international level; – – Europe should ‘speak with one voice’ on
global science issues;
– – more proactive approach to global science and technology agenda;
– – focus on a small number of high profile global issues to lead international research.

Knowledge-sharing as well as the realisation of a single labour market for researchers turned out to be the most important matters from the point of view of respondents.

The European Commission published the Green Paper ‘The European Research Area: New Perspectives’ in order to launch a public debate among stakeholders. With the detailed analysis of responses
ongoing, the Commission said that it will ‘take account of the results of the consultation in preparing initiatives that will be proposed in 2008’.

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