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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 23 September 2013

ERA progress report: 'single market' for research closer, not yet a reality

The European Commission has today presented a first comprehensive analysis of the state of the 'single market' for research, or the European Research Area (ERA). The report provides a factual base for assessing progress in target areas like open and fair recruitment of researchers or better circulation of scientific knowledge. It shows that some progress has been made, but that even the best performing research institutions still have issues to address ahead of the 2014 deadline for ERA, as set by EU leaders. There is also a significant gap between the best and the worst performers (MEMO/13/807).

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This report shows that there is still a lot of work to do. Investment in R&D is vital, but we need fully functional research and innovation systems to use that money best. We now need all EU Member States and all those involved in research and research funding to make a major push for ERA."

The European Research Area is about enabling researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operate across borders. This would strengthen EU Member States' research systems, increase their competitiveness and allow them to work together more effectively to tackle major challenges.

Even if the report underlines that progress has been achieved in all target areas, it highlights a number of areas of continued concern, including:

  1. Public investment in R&D as a percentage of overall government spending is declining in some Member States;

  2. National research programmes still operate according to different rules, for example on reporting, which makes transnational research cooperation difficult;

  3. The development and implementation of infrastructures, such as very intense lasers or extremely large telescopes, is hampered by financial, management and political barriers and often national rules or high entry costs prevent researchers from other Member States from accessing them;

  4. Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment practices are still not broadly implemented for all research positions; for example, more than half of vacancies are not yet advertised at European level via the EURAXESS jobs portal; this inhibits researcher mobility and may mean that the best person is not always appointed to the job;

  5. Gender inequality means female researchers' talent is still being wasted, and this is the area of ERA where progress has been weakest;

  6. Relatively few researchers in Europe are employed in industry, and these researchers are not sufficiently prepared for the labour market.

Background

EU leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of completing the European Research Area, setting a deadline of 2014 in European Council conclusions of February 2011 and March 2012.

The report comes one year after adoption of the Communication "A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth", which identified actions Member States should take to achieve ERA. It provides a factual baseline for an in-depth assessment of ERA that will be conducted in 2014.

The Commission proposals to achieve ERA focus on five key priorities where progress needs to be made:

  1. increased effectiveness of national research systems;

  2. improved trans-national cooperation and competition including establishing and effectively operating key research infrastructures;

  3. a more open labour market for researchers;

  4. gender equality and mainstreaming in organisations carrying out and selecting research projects; and

  5. optimal circulation and transfer of scientific knowledge, including via digital means.

The information in the ERA Progress Report was gathered from several sources, notably information included in the National Reform Programmes 2013, and a list of measures identified by the Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies of the Joint Research Centre. The Commission also conducted a survey of research funding and research performing organisations in all Member States and countries associated to the EU research programme, and this information was complemented by the MORE 2 study and Researchers Report 2013 published separately on the EURAXESS portal. The list of measures was completed in most cases by national authorities at the request of the Commission.

For more details

Report

European Research Area

EURAXESS portal

Contacts :

Michael Jennings (+32 2 296 33 88) Twitter: @ECSpokesScience

Inma Martinez Garcia (+32 2 298 73 03)


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