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IP/05/282

Brussels, 11 March 2005

What is a researcher? European Commission defines roles and responsibilities

The European Commission has today adopted a European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. These two documents are key elements in the EU’s policy to make research an attractive career, which is a vital feature of its strategy to stimulate economic and employment growth. The Charter and Code of Conduct will give individual researchers the same rights and obligations wherever they may work throughout the EU. This should help counter the fact that research careers in Europe are fragmented at local, regional, national or sectoral level, and allow Europe to make the most of its scientific potential.

“Without researchers, there is no science in Europe” said Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Science and Research. “That is why it is crucial to address the status of researchers. By setting out the roles and responsibilities of researchers, we are going some way to ensuring that researchers, wherever they work, are treated with the respect and esteem they deserve.”

700.000 additional researchers are deemed necessary to attain the objective of 3% of EU GDP for R&D and at the same time replace the ageing workforce in research. Although the number of researchers in the EU rose slightly from 5.4 per 1000 workforce in 1999 to 5.7 in 2001, this is well below the level in other countries that invest more (USA 8.1; Japan 9.1).

The potential shortage of researchers could pose a serious threat to the EU’s innovation, knowledge and productivity in the near future and may hamper the attainment of the Lisbon and Barcelona objectives.

Consequently, Europe must improve its attractiveness to researchers and increase the participation of women researchers. It must provide researchers with long term career prospects by improving their employment and working conditions, reinforcing R&D as a professions and creating more favourable conditions for mobility within a given research career path.

The Charter and the Code of Conduct contribute to this objective by addressing Member States, employers, funding organisations and researchers at all career stages. They cover all fields of research in the public and private sectors, irrespective of the nature of the appointment or employment, the legal status of the employer or the type of organisation or establishment in which the work is carried out.

The European Charter for Researchers addresses the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers and their employers or funding organisations. It aims at ensuring that the relationship between these parties contributes to successful performance in the generation, transfer and sharing of knowledge, and to the career development of researchers.

The Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers aims to improve recruitment, to make selection procedures fairer and more transparent and proposes different means of judging merit: Merit should not just be measured on the number of publications but on a wider range of evaluation criteria, such as teaching, supervision, teamwork, knowledge transfer, management and public awareness activities.

Practical implementation will be the responsibility of the employers, funders and the researchers themselves. Both they and Member States have been closely involved in the preparations of the Charter and Code of Conduct and have welcomed the initiative.

The text of the Charter and the Code of Conduct can be found at:

http://ec.europa.eu/eracareers/pdf/am509774CEE_EN_E4.pdf


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