For the EU to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, state-of-the-art facilities are essential for Europe's researchers to stay at the forefront of research development.
Research infrastructures play a vital role in the advancement of knowledge and technology. Scientific progress would be impossible without state-of-the-art super-computers or, for instance, large-scale laser systems. Responding to challenges like climate change is also greatly helped by environmental research facilities such as deep-sea-floor observatories or icebreaker research vessels, to name only a few.
As the frontiers of research evolve and become more advanced, and as our technologies progress, research infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex and more expensive, often placing them beyond the reach of a single research group, region, nation or even continent. The sheer size of such projects (generally several hundred million euros for construction and tens of millions of euros for operation) requires a joint effort by several EU countries.
A major difficulty in setting up such research infrastructures between EU countries is the lack of an adequate legal framework allowing the creation of appropriate partnerships. Existing legal forms under national law do not fulfil the needs of these new European infrastructures. The same applies to legal forms under international or EU law.
It is in this context that the European Commission, responding to requests from EU countries and the scientific community, proposed a legal framework for a European research infrastructure (ERI) adapted to the needs of such facilities.
Read more about existing legal forms:
Read more about identifying the Research Infrastructures needed in Europe in the next 10-20 years:
Further background documents: