EU Greek Presidency provides food for thought on ERA

June 27, 2003

Brussels, 26 Jun 2003

As the Greek EU Presidency comes to a close, the General Secretariat for Research and Technology has published a report outlining a series of guidelines to further the implementation of a European Research and Innovation Area (ERIA).

'The European Research and Innovation Area, The way forward - A contribution of the Greek Presidency for further thought' notes that while much progress has been made since the concept of the European Research Area (ERA) was first announced in 2000 during the Lisbon European Council, it is clear that additional action needs to be taken to combine the concept with the complementary concept of a European innovation area.

Building on papers and contributions from the Commission and the work of previous presidencies, the report aims to further stimulate discussion on a number of issues. The first issue is the need to develop links between national research programmes. 'Support for joint implementation of research activities should be seen as an effective way of stimulating cooperation between countries and regions and thus actively contributing to the creation of a European Research Area,' argues the report.

One method of advancing the mutual opening up of national programmes suggested by the report is the implementation of small pilot exercises in selected scientific areas: 'This will allow for a real test bed to identify and solve some other institutional, organisational, and administrative issues,' reads the report.

Along the same line of reasoning, the report proposes proceeding with the pilot application of Article 169 for the European and developing countries clinical trials programme (EDCTP). It also suggests using ERA-NET as a vehicle to study further the issues related to Article 169, including: the mechanisms for identifying thematic areas, procedures for setting up such joint programmes, rules for evaluation and monitoring, financial aspects and forms of governing structures.

With regard to merging the research and innovation areas, the report refers to the need to make use of a combination of instruments: 'no single instrument is able to provide a full range of incentives.'

One important tool in the European innovation and research toolbox is the European network EUREKA. The report suggests that further analysis is needed by the Commission to determine the measures and initiatives that can provide synergies and further the integration of EUREKA in the ERIA.

The report also underlines the leading role that research infrastructures play in advancing scientific knowledge and innovation in Europe and internationally by providing the appropriate structure and intellectual environment, where new scientific ideas, novel experiments and innovative technologies will flourish. Considering the importance of infrastructures, the report calls for further discussion on how to develop an evaluation-advisory mechanism to facilitate coordination, identify new research and technological challenges and respond to them in a rapid and effective manner. 'This could be could be one of the roles of the 'European Strategy Forum on research infrastructures,' says the report.

Other recommendations made by the report include increasing the financial basis for research infrastructures through support by both the public and private sectors within specific schemes of the Framework Programmes, and enhancing training opportunities within the structures, particularly for young scientists. To read the report in full, please visit:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities

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