Volume 16 - December 17, 2007 - Institutions & Organizations

The Ljubljana Process - Gearing the ERA towards 2020

bridges vol. 21, April 2009 / Letter from Brussels

By Martin Schmid

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The Slovenian Council Presidency is almost a year in the past, but the name of its capital is still frequently used in European research policy debates. At the informal meeting of European research ministers in Slovenia in April 2008, the process of gearing the European Research Area (ERA) towards the year 2020 was given the name "Ljubljana Process." And at least in the eyes of a supporter of European integration, the process that is now about to unfold deserves a name that will be remembered. The process is more than just a continuation of what started 10 years ago when the ERA concept was created along with the Lisbon process. What has the potential to make a difference, what might soon be seen as a paradigm shift, is that the Member States are about to take the ERA into their own hands.

This shift is more significant than it may first appear. Of course the ERA consists of the EU's Member States - and the states associated with its Research Framework Program, by the way.  And yes, the majority of the competencies to implement the ERA are in the hands of the Member States. But for its first 10 years the ERA was mainly driven by the European Commission. The Member States followed what had been designed by the Commission's services and sent delegates to Brussels to discuss what the Commission had proposed a few weeks before. Now there seems to be a consensus that bringing the ERA forward beyond what was reached in its first decade will require a clear commitment by its stakeholders.

 

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