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Study published on mobility flows of researchers in the context of MSCA

22. Jul 2022

This month, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) published a study analyzing the mobility flows of researchers under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

The authors address the question of how the mobility flows of MSCA researchers can be made more balanced within the European Research Area. They show that the inflow of MSCA fellows is concentrated in a handful of countries with advanced R&I ecosystems and that some regions have significant difficulties in attracting researchers from abroad. However, these country-specific differences are not the result of the architecture of the MSCA program but rather reflect general mobility trends, according to which the inflow of foreign researchers depends largely on the quality of the regional R&I systems. Especially the possibility to work with excellent researchers, the quality of offered training as well as the state of the local research infrastructure are crucial in this context.

Therefore, initiatives and funding by the EU and the member states should primarily focus on improving the conditions of less advanced R&I systems on the national and regional level in order to increase their attractiveness for foreign researchers. The report also discusses other options for making mobility flows more balanced under MSCA. The funding of the recently established ERA Fellowships, for example, should be expanded. The implementation of a hop-on facility for organizations from less-advanced countries within the MSCA Staff Exchanges should also be considered. On the other hand, the introduction of return grants is not recommended, as these could further reinforce the disparities described above.

Overall, however, the study shows that MSCA contribute to retaining excellent researchers within the EU, bringing scientific talent back to Europe, and attracting researchers from abroad to the EU.