Mobility of scientists still limited, study shows

Recent EU-wide statistics show a limited share of non-nationals in science and technologies jobs and reveals big disparities between member states’ ability to attract foreign researchers.

A Eurostat report on the mobility of science and technology workers found that an average 5.7% of human resources in research and technology (HRST) of the EU-27 are citizens of a foreign country, half of whom are citizens from other member states. The statistics, published in June 2007, show that there are large disparities in the share of these highly skilled people among EU countries. 

The shares range from 46% in Luxembourg to 0.3% in Slovenia. The share of non-national scientists is at 7.2% in the UK and 6.4% in Germany and 4.1% in France. In the new member states, with the exception of Estonia (15.2%) and Cyprus (14.2%) the percentage of foreign scientists is low, around 1% or lower.

In 2005, the Commission adopted a Recommendation on the European Charter for Researchers and a Code of Conduct for their recruitment  to provide researchers with long-term career prospects by creating more favourable conditions for their mobility, in support of EU competitiveness (see EURACTIV 8/09/2005). The Charter gives individual researchers the same rights and obligations, wherever they work in the EU. 

HRST from non-EU countries, representing some 3% of the total HRST in Europe, have also been subject to measures setting out specific procedures to facilitate their entry and work in the EU (see EURACTIV 14/10/2005). 

These statistics and surveys suggest that the results of the Commission’s initiatives to create favourable conditions for the mobility of researchers do not show results yet. However, the construction of the European Research Area (ERA) and the internal market for researchers is an ongoing process. A consultation on future ERA was launched in April 2007 (see EURACTIV 05/04/2007).

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