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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 16 September 2014

EU 'single market for research' now depends on national reforms, study finds

The ERA partnership between Member States, research stakeholders and the Commission has made good progress in delivering ERA. The conditions for achieving a European Research Area (ERA), where researchers and scientific knowledge can circulate freely, are in place at the European level. Reforms must now be implemented at the Member State level to make ERA work.

This is the main conclusion of the latest ERA progress report, presented today by the European Commission. The report updates last year's overview (IP/13/851), and presents individual country reports that give a snapshot of implementation on the ground, notably at the level of research organisations.

European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "We have made good progress on the European Research Area in recent years. It is now up to Member States and research organisations to make good on their commitments and put in place the necessary reforms. The Commission will help where it can, including with the €80 billion investment from our new research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. In particular, national and EU research efforts need to be much more closely aligned if we are to increase impact at EU level."

The following initiatives announced in the ERA Communication have been firmly established:

  • Member States are increasingly adopting measures in support of ERA, and reflecting them in their national reform programmes;

  • The EU has embedded ERA in the European semester. It also provides substantial funding for ERA measures, for instance promoting open recruitment, open access to publications and data as well as gender equality through Horizon 2020;

  • Research organisations such as research funders and research-performing institutions have shown strong support for the ERA agenda;

  • An ERA Monitoring Mechanism has been set up and is delivering increasingly strong data to evaluate performance at the Member State and institutional level.

The analysis confirms that the conditions for the completion of ERA that the Commission identified in 2012 are in place.

At the same time differences still remain at Member State and institutional level. For example, while competitive project-based funding occurs in all Member States, the extent of it varies significantly between countries. And while more than half of the Member States have initiatives in place supporting gender equality in research, the pace of real change is too slow. While the report concludes that there is no single path to achieving ERA, it is also clear that ERA is most effective and beneficial when national measures are in place.

Member States are due to put forward 'ERA Roadmaps' by mid-2015, which will outline their next steps towards ERA implementation. The Commission, research stakeholder organisations and Member States will meet in Brussels in March 2015 to take stock.


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

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. This led the Commission to propose "A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth", which identified actions Member States, Stakeholders and the European Commission should take to achieve ERA. The five priorities on which progress is assessed are: effectiveness of national research systems; transnational cooperation; an open labour market for researchers; gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research; and optimal circulation and transfer of scientific knowledge.

ERA has already proven to be good for performance of Member States and research institutions. The report includes findings such as:

  • open and attractive research systems are more innovative;

  • research institutions implementing ERA produce a higher number of publications and patent applications per researcher, generating more knowledge;

  • the research impact of researchers who have moved between countries is nearly 20% higher than those who have not.

The information in the ERA Progress Report was gathered from several sources, notably from the National Reform Programmes 2014. 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 Innovation Union Scoreboard 2014.

The ERA monitoring put in place is delivering data on levels of progress made on the ERA policy actions. However, the fact that much of this data must be gathered on a voluntary basis puts limits on its effectiveness for policy making. Further work will be needed to identify and fine-tune the essential components and enable data collection to evolve. The Commission will launch a debate with Member States on the best possible level of coordination and alignment of national research strategies and pooling of funding in the domains of the societal challenges in order to increase impact at EU level.

For more information

ERA Progress Report 2014

European Research Area


Contacts :

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

Monika Wcislo (+32 2 298 65 95)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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