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European Research Area (ERA)

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The launch of the European Research Area (ERA) was decided in March 2000 within the context of the Lisbon Strategy in order to address fragmentation of national research and innovation (R&I) systems and lack of coordination of national policies in this area.

Later, in 2010, it was included in Article 179 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) covering Union policy goals in the fields of research & technology development (RTD) and space (Art. 179-182).

ERA is a constantly evolving policy framework comprising three interrelated aspects: a) creation of an “internal market” for research, in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely, b) coordination at the European context of national and regional activities, programmes and policies for research, and c) implementation and funding of initiatives at the European level.

The ERA coordination and cooperation activities are implemented in compliance with the principle of subsidiarity on a voluntary basis, by the European Commission (EC) working together with member states and seeking to involve countries with an association agreement to the EU Framework Programme for R&I, as well as research stakeholder organisations.

Council conclusions on the ERA Roadmap 2015-2020, issued in May 2015 define six (6) key priorities for further action, on the reasoning that those will have the strongest impact in the European research and innovation system.

These priorities are based on two ambitious communications adopted by the European Commission in 2012, with the first and more important one completing the primary ERA partnership between member states and the EC with the regular participation of research stakeholder organisations [“A reinforced European Research Area partnership for excellence and growth”)

The second communication addresses the international cooperation dimension (“Strengthening and focus of the EU international cooperation in research”) which permeates horizontally all ERA priorities since it is deemed necessary to jointly address world-wide challenges, facilitate access to world markets and attract talented researchers and investments in Europe.

These priorities are:

  1. more effective national research systems
  2. optimal transnational cooperation and competition :

(2α) Jointly addressing grand challenges (joint programming)

(2b) European research infrastructures

  1. an open labour market for researchers
  2. gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  3. optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge:

(5a) Knowledge transfer/uptake and strengthening links between public/private sector - open innovation, access to digital access services (digital ERA)

(5b) Open access to scientific publications and research data (open science).

  1. International cooperation

Introducing a new approach to bilateral cooperation with third countries promoted at the Member State level, on the basis of priorities defined at the EU level, and coordinating participation in international fora and multilateral initiatives.

The successive EU framework programmes for research and innovation (currently Horizon 2020 for the 2014-2020 period) are the most important instruments for ERA implementation. At the same time, during 2015/16, almost all Member States developed national action plans to promote ERA implementation until 2020.

Since 2013, the EC publishes annual ERA progress reports according to the above priorities for both the EU as a whole and individual Members States.

ERA Advisory Structure

The ERA is implemented mainly through Council committees and working groups, most importantly the European Research Area and Innovation Committee ( ERAC).

ERAC is the central E&I policy advisory body in the framework of ERA governance; its main mission is to advise the Council, the Commission and member states on the ERA implementation progress as well as other strategic policy issues. Members of ERAC include the Commission and all EU members states; countries associated to EU R&I framework programmes may participate as observers.

The ERA Advisory Structure also comprises two groups established as ERAC dedicated configurations, the ERAC standing and ad hoc working groups for specific issues and the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures:

ERAC dedicated configurations

a) High Level Group on Joint Programming-GPC (Groupe de haut niveau pour la Programmation Conjointe) –ERA Priority 2a

b) Strategic Forum for International Scientific and Technological Cooperation  – ERA priority 6

ERAC standing working groups

c) For human resources and mobility - Standing Working Group on Human Resources and Mobility (SWGHRM) - ERA priority 3

d) For gender equality - Standing Working Group on Gender in Research and Innovation (formerly Helsinki Group) - ERA priority 4

e) For open science and innovation - Standing Working Group on Open Science and Innovation (SWG OSI) - ERA priority 5

Finally, in December 2017, the EC decided to establish an ad-hoc working group on R&I Partnerships with a mission to streamline R&I partnerships and improve their transparency, openness and coherence in view of the next EU R&I framework programme for R&I (Horizon Europe 2021-2027).

European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)

ESFRI was established in 2002, at the behest of the European Council, and plays a key role in policy-making on Research Infrastructures in Europe. Specifically, ESFRI contributes to establishing and updating the strategic roadmap (ESFRI Roadmap) for Research Infrastructures of pan-European interest (existing infrastructures and upgrades thereof, potential ESFRI infrastructures-projects) for the next 10-20 years.

The first ESFRI Roadmap was announced in 2006. There were updates in 2008, 2010, 2016 and 2018.

The current participation of Greece in the ESFRI Roadmap infrastructures is summarized in the attached file.

Related files:

Participation in research infrastructure ESFRI—[pdf-228 KB]

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