European Research Area Vision 2020

The Council of the EU, representing the 27 member states, has adopted on 2 December 2008 a common 2020 vision for the European Research Area. This is part of the Ljubljana Process of governance of ERA launched by the Commission and the Council on May 2008.

European Research Area Vision 2020 (4.01Mb)


By 2020, all actors fully benefit from the "Fifth Freedom" across the ERA: free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology. The ERA provides attractive conditions and effective and efficient governance for doing research and investing in R&D intensive sectors in Europe. It creates strong added value by fostering a healthy Europe-wide scientific competition whilst ensuring the appropriate level of cooperation and coordination. It is responsive to the needs and ambitions of citizens and effectively contributes to the sustainable development and competitiveness of Europe.


The European Research Area (ERA) is firmly rooted in society and responsive to its needs and ambitions in pursuit of sustainable development


The European publicly supported science and technology base plays a key role in responding to the needs of citizens and business, through world class cutting edge research.

Major challenges are addressed by high levels of public and private investment in research and by strategic partnerships involving the Community, Member States and Associated States in variable geometry, based on common foresight.

Research also supports the development of national and EU policies and provides decision-makers, with accessible, diverse and up-to-date scientific evidence.

ERA builds on mutual trust and continuous dialogue between society and the scientific and technological community. The freedom of research is fully recognised. Research carried out in the ERA respects the ethical principles of the EU and supports its democratic values as well as the cultures and identities of Member States.

ERA enables Europe to speak with a consistent voice in international fora and with its main international partners. Public authorities at all levels jointly promote consistency between their R&D cooperation activities and develop joint initiatives that give Europe leadership in addressing global challenges and reaching sustainable development goals.

The ERA defines the European way to excellence in research and is a major driver of European competitiveness in the globalised world

  1. The modernisation of research, education and innovation systems go hand in hand
  2. Strong interactions within the "knowledge triangle" (education, research and innovation) are promoted at all levels, from individual researchers, funding organisations, universities and research institutions, to SMEs and multinational companies and supported by appropriate European mechanisms.

    Research, education and innovation policies and programmes are jointly designed among public authorities at all levels with appropriate involvement of relevant stakeholders, whenever this is necessary to optimise their effectiveness, efficiency and value to society and the economy.

    The supply of human resources in science and technology is in line with the demand by public and private research actors, and the ERA contributes to the development of appropriate structures for the training and balanced circulation of research talents as well as for favourable work-life balance.

  3. The ERA underpins the development of European competitiveness.
  4. Business is stimulated to innovate and invest in Europe, in particular in R&D. Firms operating in the ERA benefit from a single market for innovative goods and services and excellent export potential in growing markets worldwide. They fully exploit the possibilities of open innovation through a single market for knowledge including an operational IPR framework.

    Across the ERA, firms including young innovative firms and SMEs can easily engage in research partnerships with a European public science base and benefit from attractive framework conditions, based on pro-active standard-setting and coordinated public procurement, improving their access to European high growth markets for innovative ideas, goods and services.

  5. .and provides coordinated support to researchers and research institutions engaged in excellent research
  6. Public authorities across the ERA contribute to world-class S&T excellence in Europe relying on cooperation and coordination where there is clear added value. To that end, national and regional research systems, policy objectives, dissemination and support mechanisms and programmes, which are core elements of ERA, are developed in a simple and coherent manner.

    A significant share of public funding of research is provided through ERA-wide open competition based on the quality and relevance of research, thus gradually promoting the necessary specialisation and concentration into units of excellence of optimal size and improving the effectiveness of research funding.

    Public funding leaves a large margin for bottom-up creativity and a healthy diversity of approaches in the ways challenges are addressed. This includes fully open, non-oriented research funded via the European Research Council and National Funding Organisations, which are open to direct applications within and across national borders in the EU from individual scientists or teams.

  7. At the same time, S&T capacity building is promoted across the EU
  8. Utilising fully their research potential, all European countries and regions are building on their strengths while maintaining or gaining access to complementary specialised knowledge and S&T capacities in the rest of Europe. This is achieved with significant support of the Cohesion Policy and appropriate transnational coordination to ensure optimal deployment across Europe.

    As part of diversified and rich landscape of top level scientific institutions major research infrastructures in the ERA promote excellence in science on a globally competitive basis and are co-funded at EU level where appropriate, with rapid development of new distributed infrastructures. They offer equitable access to world class modern research facilities and technology demonstrators.


The ERA provides a seamless area of freedom and opportunities for dialogue, exchange and interaction open to the world

The ERA provides for open circulation of knowledge across national borders. Public authorities at all levels jointly pursue an outward-looking approach to collaboration with third countries, based on mutual benefit and appropriate intellectual property management and protection. The ERA is at the core of all major global networks of scientific and technological knowledge producers, distributors and users.

Common frameworks, guidance and, where appropriate, legislation facilitate the establishment and functioning of the transnational markets and networks in which the ERA actors can interact with each other effectively and efficiently.

Research institutions across the ERA have the strategic, financial and managerial autonomy to engage in durable partnerships and alliances across Europe and beyond, and to interact effectively with business and other actors. These interactions are facilitated by an open market for contract research and appropriate guidance for intellectual property management.

Actors are able to access, manage and share knowledge (including via open access) across the ERA using interoperable high performance information systems.

European research institutions provide attractive working conditions for researchers from all parts of the world, both men and women, in the framework of a single labour market which enables mobility between countries and sectors with minimal financial or administrative obstacles."