European Research Area (ERA)

European Commissioner Philippe Busquin launched the idea of the European Research Area back in November 2000. “The problem is not money but fragmentation of the efforts carried out at European level,” he had said. “So it is imperative that we mobilise resources and create a movement towards coherence of research policies in Europe.”

This statement introduced the European Research Area (ERA), which aims to create a unified research area open to the world, and to enable the free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge and technology. Most importantly, ERA is based on the European internal market.

Within ERA, National Action Plans are developed based on the following six priorities:

  • More effective national research systems
  • Optimal transnational cooperation and competition, including ‘jointly addressing grand challenges’ and ‘research infrastructures’
  • An open labour market for researchers
  • Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  • Optimal circulation, access and transfer of scientific knowledge
  • International cooperation

Background and process

In 2014, 2 years after the adoption of its communication on a reinforced European Research Area (ERA) partnership  the Commission reported that EU countries and stakeholders had made good progress in delivering the ERA but more effort would be needed.

In 2015, the European Council reaffirmed its commitment to a fully operational ERA and endorsed the ERA Roadmap 2015-2020. This is a living document to guide EU countries in structuring their implementation of the ERA priorities at national level.

It calls on EU members to implement the ERA roadmap through appropriate measures in ERA national action plans and strategies.

Monitoring of ERA roadmap implementation is integrated into the ERA progress reports, on the basis of headline indicators proposed by the European Research and Innovation Advisory Committee (ERAC)

A new Communication is planned for the third quarter 2020 and will aim at relaunching and revitalising the ERA in order to:

  • make it future-proof
  • make it better able to address the major challenges of the digital and green transition
  • increase Europe’s resilience following the Covid-19 crisis.



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