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European partnership for researchers

Europe must face up to international competition in the field of research and development (R&D) which is stripping Europe of its best talents. To be able to hold its own and develop as a worldwide centre of excellence, Europe must implement joint priority actions to prevent brain drain to regions offering better prospects. The aim of this partnership is to create a framework for joint priority actions for different Member States concerning the systematic opening up of recruitment, pensions and social security for mobile researchers, attractive employment and working conditions and improving training and skills.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 23 May 2008 “Better careers and more mobility: a European partnership for researchers” [COM(2008) 317 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

In order to address the shortage of researchers in Europe, the Commission proposes the creation of a partnership to drive forward a number of priority actions in research and development (R&D).

To be able to face up to international competition which attracts young researchers away, the European Union (EU) must offer attractive conditions to young graduates.

From now until the end of 2010, the European partnership for researchers should implement joint actions and achieve tangible progress in four key areas (recruitment, pensions and social security, employment and working conditions and training of researchers).

Open recruitment and portability of grants

The partnership should commit to the systematic opening up of research posts in research institutes to all European researchers by adopting best practice on the recognition of qualifications, in particular. Experience shows that the majority of vacancies are only advertised internally or at national level.

Certain information such as vacancies in the public sector must be published more systematically on the internet on websites such as EURAXESS and EURES.

The portability of grants awarded by national funding agencies or through Community programmes must be improved. This opportunity would give researchers more freedom in managing their careers and would enable national funding agencies to respond better to research needs and to encourage beneficial relocations for certain projects

Social security and supplementary pensions for mobile researchers

It is important to facilitate access to information regarding social security and the effects of transnational mobility on supplementary pensions so as to enable employers and researchers to better understand their rights

Member States should better exploit the flexibility of the European legislative framework with regard to derogations foreseen in the Community legislation on social security coordination (Regulations (EC) No 1408/71 and 574/72). These derogations enable Member States to apply different rules or to extend the application period of national legislation in the interest of workers.

To facilitate the mobility of international researchers, it is suggested that Member States include specific clauses for researchers in social security agreements with third countries in order to facilitate international mobility.

With regard to supplementary pensions, it is important to encourage portability of rights and the establishment of pan-European pension schemes targeted at researchers.

Attractive employment and working conditions

To make the career of a researcher more attractive, it is important to improve professional development opportunities for young researchers by moving towards a "flexicurity" principle, regular evaluations, wider autonomy and appropriate training.

Contractual and administrative arrangements must be more flexible to enable new researchers to secure permanent contracts more easily so that they can become independent researchers. Furthermore, national legislation applicable to senior and end-of-career researchers values performance more and more over seniority and is introducing more flexibility in the management of their careers.

Researchers supplied with atypical forms of remuneration (stipends, fellowships, etc.) must receive adequate social security coverage.

Male and female researchers must receive equal treatment,which enables them to reconcile professional and private life, in particular.

Improving training, skills and experience

Researchers must be able to fulfil a range of new roles. In particular, they could be encouraged to manage intellectual property and multidisciplinary projects or to set up their own company. It is therefore important that Member States prepare "national skills agendas" to enable researchers to acquire new skills throughout their career.

Traditional university education does not prepare researchers for the modern knowledge economy where connections between industry and public research institutions are essential for the development of new products, etc. Member States must strengthen the links between universities and industry. In particular, industry could provide training for researchers, contribute towards funding doctorates and be involved in preparing programmes.

Context

This Communication is one of five strategic initiatives developed by the Commission in 2008 following the ERA Green Paper which aims to create a more open, competitive and attractive European Research Area. To this end, the Commission proposed the creation of a partnership to ensure the availability of the human resources required to build a European knowledge society, thus contributing to the aims of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and employment.

The first stage of the partnership will be completed in 2010 with an evaluation of the situation and results from actions taken by the partnership.

Last updated: 24.09.2008
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