Green Paper on New Perspectives for the European Research Area - a New Attempt to Overcome the Fragmentation of Europe's Research Landscape

bridges vol. 13, April 2007 / Letter from Brussels

by Martin Schmid

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Schmid_Martin_small.jpgSchmid_Martin_small.jpg A lot of things are going on in Brussels these days in the field of science, research, and innovation. The 7th Research Framework Program (FP7) has just been launched, the first calls are open, and last preparations for the selection procedures are being made. The European Research Council has started its operation, launched the first call, and is still building up its internal structures and developing its procedures. The Commission is in the final phase of its preparations for the proposal of the first Joint Technology Initiatives and initiatives after Article 169 of the EC treaty (joint programs of several Member States with participation of the EC) as foreseen in FP7. The discussions on the creation of the European Institute of Technology are in a crucial phase. Indeed, one can't say that Brussels isn't working hard on its research policy instruments.

At this very moment, the European Commission has again put the focus on another and maybe even more important issue of Europe's research policy: the fragmentation of the European public research base. This fragmentation is still a major problem for Europe's performance in research and innovation, preventing it from using its full potential. Seven years after launching the European Research Area (ERA) at the Lisbon European Council in 2000, many goals have been reached but the overall picture remains the same. There are still obstacles for the mobility of researchers; there is still a lack of coordination between national research policies and programs, leading to duplication of efforts instead of pooling resources; and there is still no well developed and harmonized system for managing and sharing intellectual property, to mention just the most obvious problems.



To tackle these problems the Commission put forward a Green Paper at the beginning of April with the goal of launching a major discussion on the ERA's further development. Debate will take place among the European Institutions, Member States, researchers and research institutions, as well as the general public. In the Green Paper the Commission identifies six dimensions of the ERA for which measures should be considered. The six dimensions are briefly listed here:

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