Joint press conference by Neelie Kroes and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn on the European Research Area (ERA)

Type: Complete press conference   Reference: I-074040   Duration: 10:12:06  Lieu:
End production: 17/07/2012   First transmission: 17/07/2012
On 17 July 2012, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the EC in charge of Research, Innovation and Science, and Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of the Digital Agenda, gave a press conference on completing the European Research Area (ERA) and on open access to scientific information, in Brussels. On this occasion, they outlined measures to improve access to scientific information produced in Europe. Broader and more rapid access to scientific papers and data will make it easier for researchers and businesses to build on the findings of public-funded research. This will boost Europe's innovation capacity and give citizens quicker access to the benefits of scientific discoveries. In this way, it will give Europe a better return on its €87 billion annual investment in R&D. The measures complement the Commission's Communication to achieve ERA. As a first step, the Commission will make open access to scientific publications a general principle of Horizon 2020, the EU's Research & Innovation funding programme for 2014-2020. As of 2014, all articles produced with funding from Horizon 2020 will have to be accessible. The Commission has also recommended that Member States take a similar approach to the results of research funded under their own domestic programmes. The goal is for 60% of European publicly-funded research articles to be available under open access by 2016.

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10:00:00 Soundbite by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Member of the EC in charge of Research, Innovation and Science (in ENGLISH): The research community complained about a host of barriers to their careers – barriers that we can no longer tolerate if we want to stop the exodus of scientists from Europe. This situation is particularly worrying because the shift to a globalised knowledge economy has made research one of the most strategic sectors of activity for Europe's economy. I talk frequently to global business leaders. I always ask them about the factors that persuade them to invest in one country or region over another. A world-class research base is always the first one they mention. Europe leads in many fields, but we can’t afford to be complacent. We produce more scientific publications than the US, but our publications are less frequently cited than theirs. In other words, we are falling behind when it comes to the very best research with the highest impact. And, of course, competition is intensifying all the time, as China and other emerging economies enter the race. The European Research Area (ERA) will help to generate more research excellence in Europe by opening up national funding to pan-European competition and, at the same time, increasing cross-border competition. That is what top scientists want – to compete and co-operate. That's what will produce the breakthroughs we need to tackle big, complex challenges, such as climate change or energy security. That’s why the European Council called in February 2011 and again in March this year for it to be completed by 2014. Of course, some of you may be asking yourselves why progress will be any faster now than it has been in the past. Well, apart from the ringing endorsement from the European Council, there are three reasons. First, we are focusing our efforts on just five areas. They are: More effective research systems – ensuring that funding is allocated on a competitive basis to the best and most productive researchers and research teams; Optimal transnational co-operation and competition – removing the technical barriers which prevent joint actions from getting off the ground, raising quality through Europe-wide open competition, and constructing and effectively running key research infrastructures on a pan-European basis; An open labour market for researchers – we want to ensure that researchers can move as freely between Rome and Riga, or Sofia and Stockholm, as they can between Wisconsin and Washington, or Massachusetts and Minnesota. That means making research grants and pensions portable across borders and ensuring that recruitment to academic positions is fair, transparent and merit-based; Gender equality and mainstreaming in research – to put an end to the scandalous waste of female talent; Broader and faster access to scientific papers and data. Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the EC in charge of the Digital Agenda, will say more about this in a moment. The second reason why I believe that success is now in our grasp is the reinforced partnership that we are creating today. I am very pleased to announce that some of the biggest research stakeholder organisations have agreed to support us in completing ERA, and I shall – immediately after this press conference – be signing a joint statement and memoranda of understanding with them. Finally, a new monitoring system will make it much easier to monitor progress in the five action areas. I will not hesitate to ‘name and shame' Member States who fall behind. Ladies and gentlemen, ERA is the policy pillar which accompanies our new research funding programme, Horizon 2020. Our estimations suggest that the two together can give rise to an extra 1% of growth and almost 1 million more jobs per annum by 2030. These benefits will not be restricted to rich regions which already have strong research systems. ERA will help all regions to advance through smart specialisation, with each focusing on their areas of strength. Horizon 2020 and the Structural Funds will support this. But it’s not just the economic arguments that matter. There are people suffering from serious diseases waiting for effective treatments. There are a billion people without enough to eat and the number is growing. We can tackle problems like these more effectively if we work together, both at European and international level. ERA will help us to do that. Twelve years after its launch, it is an idea whose time has now come. We must act quickly to turn it into a reality. Thank you. 00:05:29
10:05:29 Soundbite by Neelie Kroes (in ENGLISH): Thank you. Just to mention that I am thrilled. I have a special interest in the package Máire and I present today. It is important. We are leading by example and making EU-funded research open to all. And we are urging Member States to do likewise, so that sooner, rather than later, all nationally funded research will follow. In simple terms that means we are opening up access to scientific publications and the underlying data. In future you won’t have to pay expensive subscriptions to access information generated with your taxes. I put a premium on such open systems because they deliver more for their users and for the wider economy. For example when the Human Genome Project results were made accessible, it leveraged a €3 billion research investment into around €500 billion in economic activity. I want more of those benefits to land in Europe. There is a direct connection between this package and our economic future. This package is also a major part of the wider movement to open up what is produced with public money – whether by a government or the organisations they fund. Doing this is a matter of principle. You paid for this research – you should have access to the results. But more than that, open access to scientific information will lead to better and faster research results. Innovation is an over-used word. We talk a lot about it, but don’t do enough of it. One reason for that is that we put obstacles in the way of innovation - like locking up information that is critical for innovators, for entrepreneurs. Open access policies get rid of those obstacles. They make it easier for great thinkers, for great business people, to do what they do best. So this package is big news for any start-up or small company that can’t afford scientific journals. This could help those businesses get their ideas to market 2 years earlier. For publications our proposal means that researchers can choose to provide open access in two ways: First, by paying publication costs upfront to the publisher and making the articles immediately accessible – known as 'Gold' Open Access. Or, second, by putting their articles into open access repositories online. Publishers sometime impose "embargo periods", that is: delays before such self-deposited articles can become openly accessible. Our policy means that delays of up to 6 months are acceptable for all subjects, with an except for social sciences and humanities who may delay by 12 months. This is known as “green open access”. And let's look at scientific data too. We can do a great deal by utilising raw research data in new ways. For example, Alzheimers’ researchers recently pooled genetic data and discovered five new genes and important evidence about the disease. That is what happens when researchers from different research fields and regions can cross-check and combine data sets. Therefore we will start implementing a strong open access policy for data as well, excluding, however, projects for which this would raise legitimate privacy or commercial concerns. Our strong political message today is that researchers deserve support to make their results available to all, for the benefit of all. And of course that support doesn't stop with project grants. As Máire has explained, we have already made major progress in building the European Research Area. One crown jewel is what we call the Digital ERA. And the basis of the Digital ERA are the very high-speed network connections – up into the Gigabit per second rage - between all universities and research institutes: our GÉANT network build over the last two decades. Open access to data needs infrastructures to host and serve the data – and it needs infrastructures to connect to and transport the data. We already are busy building and extending both. In conclusion: we spend hundreds of billions of Euros on research in Europe and we need to make sure the results can have the largest possible impact. As in so many other fields, the internet is once again the key to this progress. As one of the biggest players in this field, the EU is placing European science as a global leader: and giving taxpayers the “value for money” they deserve. 00:06:36
10:12:06 Questions/answers session 00:07:35
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