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European R&D Policies

Europe has a long-standing tradition of excellence in research and innovation, and European teams continue to lead progress in many fields of science and technology. However, our centres of excellence are scattered across the continent in 27 Member States. The European Research Area (ERA) aims to bring national and European Union endeavors together through networking and co-operation and to build a research and innovation equivalent of the "common market" for goods and services.

With the Green Paper on the European Research Area (ERA), the European Commission launched in 2007 a broad institutional and public debate on what should be done to create a unified and attractive European Research Area, which would fulfill the needs and expectations of the scientific community, business and citizens. The public consultation on the ERA green paper lasted from May 2007 until August 2007. The consultation process was developed in parallel to the discussion with the other institutions, and was followed by a high-level conference in Lisbon on 8-10 October 2007.

The consultation identified a number of key issues for the future of the ERA, including public investment, globalization of research, private sector investment, the emergence of new scientific powers and the specialization of research activities at EU, rather than Member State, level. The six priority areas suggested by the Commission - researchers, infrastructures, excellent research institutions, knowledge-sharing, international co-operation, co-coordinated programming and evaluation, and opening ERA to the world - were confirmed, with knowledge-sharing emerging as the most pressing if the ERA vision is to be achieved but researchers as the most important in terms of need for EU-level action. Among the key areas, international cooperation was deemed essential. The majority of replies highlighted the need for the European Union and Member States to work more closely together to ensure better coordinated and more efficient international cooperation. Respondents agreed that Europe should "speak with one voice" on global science issues. The European Union should take a more proactive approach in defining the global S&T; agenda, and focus on a small number of high profile global issues to lead international research.

As a part of the consultation process, the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC) published in August 2007 a paper with key recommendations for the future development of the European Research Area. This paper put forward five key recommendations for the European Commission, namely: - implement fully and properly an autonomous ERC according to the established legislation; -extend the principles of autonomous management and governance to other areas; - increase research resources in Europe; - improve efficiency and complementariness of European research and training schemes and promote their synergies with robust national programs; - and improve the connections between frontier research and innovation.

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