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Brussels, 4 April 2007

Commission unveils its vision for the future of the European Research Area

Today the European Commission is putting forward its ideas for a European research area that makes the most of Europe's knowledge potential. The Commission's vision is to tap this potential by providing the freedom for people, infrastructures, organisations, funding, knowledge circulation and global co-operation to operate effectively, securing knowledge firmly at the heart of society. The Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives" recognises the challenges posed to Europe by underinvestment in and fragmentation of research and the growing globalisation of science & technology. Better generation and use of knowledge is crucial if the EU is to achieve its economic, social and environmental ambitions, as outlined in the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs. There will be an on-line public consultation on the issues in the Green Paper open until August 2007. Contributions will be used in the design of concrete actions for the development of the European Research Area, to be put forward from 2008.

"Our future depends on Europe becoming a true knowledge society" said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. "The European Research Area is the foundation on which this knowledge society must be built."

Today's Green Paper is set out along 6 main axes:

Adequate flow of competent researchers, with high levels of mobility between institutions, disciplines, sectors & countries;

World class research infrastructures, integrated, networked & accessible to research teams from across Europe & the world, notably thanks to new generations of electronic communication infrastructures;

Excellent research institutions, engaged in effective public-private co-operation and partnerships, forming the core of research and innovation clusters including virtual research communities. Such clusters & communities would be mostly specialised in interdisciplinary areas and would attract a critical mass of human & financial resources;

Effective knowledge-sharing notably between public research & industry, as well as with the public at large;

Well-coordinated research programmes & priorities, including significant jointly-programmed public research investment at European level with common priorities, coordinated implementation & joint evaluation;

Opening the European Research Area to the world with special emphasis on neighbouring countries & a strong commitment to addressing global challenges with Europe's partners.

Much has been achieved in shaping the European Research Area since the concept was endorsed by the Lisbon European Council in 2000. This includes the creation of the European Research Council, the proposed European Institute of Technology, better coordination of research through European Technology Platforms & ERA-Nets and the setting of national R&D targets. But much remains to be done. Researchers still come up against obstacles to career development or which prevent them from moving to do research elsewhere in the EU. Businesses find it difficult to form partnerships with universities, especially across borders. National and regional funding remains largely uncoordinated and so lacks efficiency. The exploitation of research results could be significantly improved, an issue which forms the basis of a policy document on improving knowledge transfer between research institutions and industry across Europe, also adopted today (see MEMO/07/127). The document is accompanied by guidelines to help research institutions improve their links with industry, which highlight good practice on the management and transfer of knowledge and intellectual property.

For more information and the public consultation: (on-line questionnaire available from the 1st of May).

Informal debate and comments are welcome on the Commissioner's website:

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