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Researchers Mobility Policy
 - Objectives
- European Research Area
- Framework Programmes
- Assistance to Researchers

Making the most of Europe's research potential

Research is a major driving force for economic and social development. New scientific and technological discoveries are constantly changing and improving the way we live and work.

Europe has an enviable reputation in the world of research thanks largely to its highly qualified research personnel and their rich intellectual capacity and know-how. The EU is responsible for producing one third of the world's scientific knowledge and boasts world-class expertise in areas such as environmental science, medical research, transport, aerospace and telecommunications.

Maintaining and enhancing this reputation is essential if Europe is to continue to compete successfully at international level, and if it is to meet its target of becoming the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.

This ambitious goal was set by EU leaders at the European Council meeting in Lisbon in March 2000. Key to achieving it will be maximising Europe's human capital and harnessing its research potential

Putting career development centre stage

To ensure researchers reach their full potential, it is essential they have access to the best possible training and career development opportunities at all stages of their professional life. In the competitive world of research, scientists need constantly to fine-tune their skills and know-how, otherwise they will be left behind by their competitors.

Mobility of researchers is fundamental to successful science. To make ground-breaking discoveries, teams of researchers from all parts of Europe need to be able to come together to exchange ideas and co-operate. This collaboration is essential when you bear in mind the sheer cost and complexity of modern science.

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The EU and mobility

The EU has a long track record of encouraging researcher mobility in the field of education and training. Probably the most well-known activity is the EU's Erasmus programme, which was set up in 1987 to provide assistance for university students to study at higher education institutions in another European country.

Similarly, since 1984 researchers looking for opportunities to spend time working abroad have benefited from well-established schemes such as the Marie Curie fellowships and the Research Training Networks. The new Marie Curie human resources and mobility activities covered under the EU's Sixth Framework Programme are the latest in this long line of EU-funded mobility programmes.

Under FP6, the emphasis on researcher training, mobility and career development has intensified considerably — testament to the essential role researchers play in Europe's future. The share of funds available for human resources has increased by over 50% to €1,580 million. This is the strongest single increase among all the priorities from the Fifth to the Sixth FP.

These funds will be used to improve the transfer of research knowledge worldwide; to boost researchers' career prospects, thereby encouraging others to join the profession; to make Europe a more attractive place to carry out research; and to enhance the social visibility researchers in Europe.

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The benefits of mobility

From the EU's perspective, mobility is one of the essential and visible means of developing the European Research Area (ERA). The ERA was launched by Commissioner Busquin in January 2000 as a way to improve Europe's research performance. Mobility also enhances the flow of scientific knowledge and expertise worldwide and makes Europe a more attractive option for research and research talent from all over the world.

Helping researchers take advantage of training opportunities abroad improves Europe's skills base, makes research a more attractive career option and provides links for future co-operation.

The Marie Curie Actions on offer will help stop the 'brain drain' of scientists from the EU to other parts of the world and will encourage European researchers working abroad to return home to continue their career.

For researchers, spending time training in another country offers many advantages: it gives them a chance to acquire new cutting-edge-skills, to participate in multicultural research teams and to experience the benefits of cultural diversity. The opportunity to work in another country raises the international profile of researchers' careers and provides the perfect way to network and share experience with others in the same field.

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last update: 31-10-2002