Brussels, 17 Oct 2002
In a communication published on 16 October the Commission outlined proposals to strengthen the European Research Area initiative.
In the document, a number of new measures are put forward to drive the establishment of the European Research Area (ERA), as well as ideas to enhance the current framework. The communication also calls for increased participation in the initiative by Member States, and warns that failure to do so risks 'jeopardising the chances of the project achieving its objectives.'
Philippe Busquin, the EU Research Commissioner, said: 'Thirty months after it was launched, the European Research Area initiative can be said to have reshaped the European research policy landscape. However, the initiative is suffering from the fact that that the Member States are still showing insufficient commitment. Mechanisms should be put in place to help improve the coordination of national research policies.'
Specifically, the new proposals for strengthening the ERA include:
- The definition of a formal mechanism for the coordination of national research policies, which could take the form of a system of annual reports, as currently used in the coordination of economic and employment policies;
- The establishment of a structure capable of providing this coordination in an effective manner, including representation from the top level of national government;
- The increased use of EU legislation where necessary, for example, measures aimed at facilitating the mobility of researchers, and policy aimed at increasing private investment in research.
Suggestions are also made on how to improve or refocus existing ERA activities. The Commission feels, for example, that the recently concluded benchmarking process could benefit from a future concentration on more targeted topics, and the setting up of steering committees to oversee future benchmarking reports. It also proposes the creation of more powerful mechanisms for international research cooperation, such as a networking of research attachés posted to international Member State representations.
The Commission concludes by saying that further debate on the ERA is needed, not limited simply to the EU institutions but among the entire European research community, followed by a more resolute move to action by all concerned parties. It is hoped that initial conclusions on the communication's proposals can be drawn before the European Council meeting in the spring of 2003.
For further information, please consult the following web addresses: http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/era/e ranews_en.html http://www.cordis.lu/rtd2002/era-debate/ era.htm http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/era/i ndex_en.html