European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "We cannot continue with a situation where research funding is not always allocated competitively, where positions are not always filled on merit, where researchers can rarely take their grants or have access to research programmes across borders, and where large parts of Europe are not even in the game. Talk to any business leader and they will tell you that the quality of the research base is a major factor in their investment decisions. In today's economy, no Member State or region can afford to neglect its knowledge base."
When asked, almost 80% of the research community indicated that lack of open and transparent recruitment hinders international mobility. Member States are therefore asked to remove barriers to cross-border research careers in Europe, step up the pursuit of joint research agendas, enhance competitive funding for institutions and projects and invest efficiently in world-class facilities.
Research stakeholder organisations are urged to define and implement principles for accessibility and portability of national grants, to publish job vacancies on a common internet portal, to fill research positions according to transparent, open and merit-based recruitment procedures and to step up links between industry and academia.
To complement today's European Research Area proposals, the Commission is also presenting an initiative to promote access to, and preservation of, scientific information. This aims at promoting open access to research publications from EU-funded projects, as well as from nationally funded research.
EU leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of completing the European Research Area, setting a deadline of 2014 in European Council conclusions of February 2011 and March 2012. The role of the European Research Area in Europe's drive for competitiveness is also highlighted in the Compact for Growth and Jobs agreed at the European Council of June 28/29.
The Commission proposals to achieve the European Research Area focus on five key priorities where progress needs to be made:
For each priority, the Communication identifies concrete steps to be taken by Member States, stakeholder organisations and the European Commission, working together within a reinforced partnership.
The European Research Area is an integral part of the ambition to turn the European Union into a true Innovation Union. Increasing research investment, scientific quality and relevance are crucial to develop new knowledge-intensive products and services that hold the key to growth and jobs.