ERA - European Research Area


The creation of a European Research Area (ERA) is about creating a genuine European 'internal market' for research to increase pan-European co-operation and co-ordination of national research activities.

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The EU has a long tradition of excellence in research and innovation, but this excellence is often scattered across the EU, with 80 per cent of public sector research in Europe being conducted at national level, mainly under national or regional research programmes. This all too often means that the potential of EU research is not fully exploited. 

To tackle this problem, the Commission proposed, in January 2000, the creation of a European Research Area (ERA). The main aim of the communication 'Towards a European Research Area' is to contribute to a better integration and organisation of Europe's scientific and technological area and to the creation of better overall framework conditions for research in Europe. The Communication was endorsed in the context of the 'Lisbon strategy' to boost Europe's competitiveness. 

On 3 October 2001, the Commission presented a follow-up strategy paper on the regional dimension of the ERA, which aimed at inciting local and regional authorities to benefit from the new possibilities offered by the ERA. The regions are recognised as major drivers behind the development of the European knowledge-economy and regional development is considered key for the EU's future growth and competitiveness.

The EU's 6th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP6) was adopted as major element to achieve the ERA and its main financial instrument and the FP7 (2007-2013), is designed to help EU to achieve the Lisbon goals. The first official proposal for the FP7 was accompanied by a communication called "Building the ERA of knowledge for growth 2007-2013".

There is an overall agreement on the need to interlink a European Higher Education Area (see EurActiv LinksDossier on the 'Bologna Process') and a European Research Area as the integration of the PhD into the Bologna process opens up further opportunities for networking research.