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European Partnership for Researchers – better careers and more mobility

The European Partnership for Researchers (EPR) aims at improving career prospects for researchers in Europe, stimulating young people to embark on research careers and helping to retain European talent and attracting researchers from other world regions. The Partnership facilitates mobility between countries, academia and industry.

Improving the career prospects and mobility enhances the diffusion of knowledge (fifth Freedom) throughout Europe, balances demand and supply for researchers at European level, helps to create centers of excellence and improves the skills of researchers in Europe. The EPR is one of the five ERA initiatives to help creating the European Research Area.

The EPR aims to accelerate progress in four key areas:

  • Open recruitment and portability of grants;     
  • Meeting the social security and supplementary pension needs of mobile researchers;
  • providing attractive employment and working conditions;
  • enhancing the training, skills and experience of researchers.
Social security and pensions of researchers:
A pan-European Pension Fund for Researchers

Researchers increasingly rely on supplementary pension schemes to provide for their retirement but are often confronted with unfavourable conditions for acquisition, preservation and transfer of these rights when they undertake mobility. However, according to the results of a feasibility study, it is now possible to set up a pan-European pension fund for researchers that could provide a possible practical solution to overcome one of the barriers to the mobility of researchers.

An Expert Group on "Social Security, supplementary pensions and new patterns of mobility" has delivered a report on the social security and pensions (pdf 3MB) of internationally mobile researchers. The report proposes concrete recommendations to remove the obstacles linked to researchers' social security protection.

Actions

The EPR is being implemented by the Member States and Associated Countries together with stakeholders. The EPR is promoted and monitored by the ERA Steering Group on Human Resources and Mobility which gathers representatives of all EU Member States and associated countries as well as the European Commission. In this frame, participating countries are developing national action plans and discussing possible EU-level actions with the European Commission.

The Commission has also launched concrete initiatives, such as dedicated information services for researchers, in particular through the activities regrouped under the name of EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion.

EURAXESS is the gateway to attractive research careers in Europe and to a pool of world-class research talents. It encompasses four main activities:

  • EURAXESS Jobs: a portal providing access to the research job market;
  • EURAXESS Services: a network of 200 centres located in 37 countries providing researchers and their families with access to services for daily matters;
  • EURAXESS Rights: a set of principles and a strategy about rights and obligations in the research profession;
  • EURAXESS Links: links for European researchers abroad.

EURAXESS and other initiatives implementing the Partnership are funded by the People Specific Programme of the 7th Research Framework Programme.
The EPR was proposed by the Commission in the May 2008 in the Communication Better careers and more mobility: A European Partnership for Researchers and endorsed by Council Conclusions in September 2009. Further impetus was provided by the Report of Ministers Gago (Portugal) and Biltgen (Luxembourg) endorsed by the Council in March 2009.

The mobility of researchers constitutes a crucial element in the realisation of the European Research Area. The attraction and retention of talented researchers in Europe is strongly linked to the overall employment conditions and to the removal of obstacles to researchers' mobility, notably related to pension entitlements.

DG Research and Innovation is taking a practical step toward helping employers to have a full understanding of the possible terms and conditions for setting up a cross-border pension fund.

Information workshops are organised in 2011 for interested organisations employing researchers, with the aim of allowing them to make an informed decision about whether to join a pan-European pension fund and under what conditions. The first workshop was held on 4 April providing information about the possibilities. The presentations can be found in the right column of this page.