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News 17 March 2021

ERA revamping puts R&I at the centre of the EU post-pandemic recovery scenario

The renewed interest in the European Research Area (ERA) was concretely kicked off last year with the European Commission Communication on “A new ERA for Research and Innovation”, a set of policies promoting cooperation and mobility of ideas and researchers across the EU.  

The Communication outlined the four strategic objectives of the ERA: 1) prioritise investment and reforms in research and innovation; 2) improve access to excellent facilities; 3) transfer results to the economy; and 4) strengthen mobility of researchers and free flow of knowledge and technology. To reach these objectives, a list of 14 actions was drafted by the Commission. Ranging from the more general target of 3% GDP on EU research and development investment to the launch of a platform for peer-reviewed open access publishing, the actions are wide in scope and touch upon several R&I features in Europe. 

In parallel to policy indications, the EU Commission is also trying to deploy or implement a better, more inclusive process to shape an ERA that is wider in outreach and that considers the interests of diverse stakeholders. The idea led to the launch of a new Expert Group on the ERA Forum for Transition, whose main goal is to provide advice and expertise to the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in relation to the preparation of the ERA governance framework in partnership with EU countries. Starting this year, the Expert Group will help design a new ERA governance and kick-start the work for an ERA Policy Agenda. While mainly composed of Member Stats representatives, joined by representatives from each EEA/EFTA Country, the Expert Group plans to include in its discussions diverse European R&I stakeholders on the basis of their expertise. 

In the framework of ERA’s activities, EERA recognises many points of convergence between its strategic plans and the founding pillars of the new ERA. Not only the increased attention on researchers’ mobility is welcomed by EERA, but crucial will be the focus on the relation between research and industry. The search for synergies with existing industrial alliances and initiatives is indeed key to accelerate innovation in Europe, with the purpose of speeding up lab-to-fab transfers in critical energy technologies.