European Research Area (ERA)
Since the publication of the European Commission’s communication „Towards a European Research Area“ in 2000 the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) is one of the central missions of the EU in the field of research.
lready in the Lisbon treaty ERA is described as unified research area open to the world and based on the Internal Market, in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely and through which the framework conditions for competetive research and innovation in Europe are improved.
The most important instrument to implement ERA is the framework programme for research, technological development and demonstration.
The European Commission explains the ERA conecept in a video.
Horizon 2020 is the essential contribution of the European Union (EU) concerning the European Research Area (ERA). ERA represents a vital concept for the EU research funding and policy, developed step by step over time:
- Already back in the 1970s, the concept of an integrated European research area was considered, comprising synergies in the use of infrastructures, joint research planning and enhanced mobility of researchers and knowledge.
- Around 2000, the ERA concept became part of the so-called Lisbon Strategy, gaining political momentum. The vision of an "open space" for Research in Europe covered the grouping of resources and infrastructures, the mobilization of private investment and the strengthening of mobility and human capital; it was designed to turn the EU into the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy worldwide until the year 2010.
- In April 2007, European Commission published a Green Paper on ERA to report on the progress, identify shortcomings, and start a public discussion. The "Leitmotiv" of the Green Paper is the reduction of fragmentation in ERA and the fostering of Europe`s international competitiveness.
- Based on the Green Paper and the results of a public consultation, in spring 2008 EU started the so-called Ljubljana Process to further develop ERA. In the connecting "Vision 2020" EU stated the demand for a stronger interaction within the knowledge triangle (education, research, innovation), supported by a "fifths freedom", the open circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology in Europe. A strong cohesion policy and a reasonable coordination of EU member states were added and meant to enable Europe to communicate as a unified entity and to compete successfully with Asia and the U.S.A.
Additionally, the scientific community in Europe developed several instruments to contribute to ERA. The (now dissolved) Heads of European Research Councils (EUROHORCs) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) have published a so-called "Roadmap to Excellence"; the new organisation Science Europe has continued theses activities. The respective documents describe a number of science-driven projects focusing mainly on the quality of research, independently implemented by the European research and research funding institutions.