Wednesday, 14 September 2011

EC consults on European Research Environment

Yesterday (13 September) the European Commission launched a wide scale public consultation on the state of the EU’s research environment and ideas to improve it. The consultation was launched by European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Máire Geoghegan-Quinn at the European Research Area Committee’s (ERAC) Stakeholder Seminar at the Berlaymont building in Brussels.

The Commissioner’s goal is to achieve the European Research Area (ERA) by 2014, creating a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation. This will enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to circulate, compete, and co-operate across borders, increasing growth potential. The consultation will allow the scientific community and other interested groups and individuals to contribute to this process by helping redefine the research landscape in Europe.

At the launch Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (pictured below, right with Robert-Jan Smits, Director General of DG Research and Innovation at the ERAC meeting) said: "The need to boost Europe's economy means that we have to get the very best out of our research. It is unacceptable that it is often more attractive and easier for our top scientists to cross the Atlantic than to move across the EU. We want the research community to tell us what they need, so we can work together to tear down barriers to growth and jobs."

“We have excellent researchers in Europe. I am determined to give them the research area that they deserve, so that they can drive Europe's economic recovery,” she concluded.

Open consultation
The consultation is open now and will run until 30 November 2011. Some of the questions the European Commission wants to tackle include:
  • Are researchers looking for new opportunities, but finding themselves locked behind national borders?
  • Are scientists in need of new research infrastructures to perform and test ideas?
  • Does the research community need more opportunities to share views, realise new projects and create new products and services?
The Commission will draw on input received on these and many other questions to finalise its proposal for an enhanced ERA Framework, to be published before the end of 2012. The Framework will optimise the coordination of research funding across Member State borders, improving the efficiency and the impact of European research.

The European Commission has identified the ERA as a prerequisite for a new era of innovation and competitiveness in Europe, with the best brains working together so the European Union becomes an "Innovation Union".

All those interested in European research and innovation should participate in the consultation which can be found here.

What is ERA?
The ERA concept was proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication "Towards a European Research Area" (COM(2000)6), and launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000. It was given new impetus in 2007 with the European Commission's Green Paper on ERA (COM(2007)161).

Commissioner Quinn is now determined that it will become a reality. You can read the full text of the Commissioner’s speech at the ERAC seminar here.

ERAC is a strategic policy advisory body that assists the European Commission and the Council of the European Union in matters relating to research and technological development.

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