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ESFRI, the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, is a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach. The competitive and open access to high quality Research Infrastructures supports and benchmarks the quality of the activities of European scientists, and attracts the best researchers from around the world.

The mission of ESFRI is to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe, and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to the better use and development of research infrastructures, at EU and international level.

ESFRI's delegates are nominated by the Research Ministers of the Member and Associate Countries, and include a representative of the Commission, working together to develop a joint vision and a common strategy. This strategy aims at overcoming the limits due to fragmentation of individual policies and provides Europe with the most up-to-date Research Infrastructures, responding to the rapidly evolving Science frontiers, advancing also the knowledge-based technologies and their extended use.

Since it was formed in 2002 at the behest of the European Council, ESFRI has witnessed significant advances towards unity and international impact in the field of research infrastructures. The publication of the first Roadmap for pan-European research infrastructures in 2006, and its update in 2008 was a key contributing factor, and several projects are now entering the realization phase. The Forum is determined to sustain the momentum in the implementation of the projects on the Roadmap, to expand the outreach to those scientific fields which are still evolving their conceptual approach in this direction, and to increase the involvement of all Countries by developing ad-hoc Regional policies. A further update of the ESFRI Roadmap, focusing on Energy, Food and Biology, was published at the end of 2010.

ESFRI's mandate has been expanded by the Council in December 2012. In its Conclusions on A reinforced European research area partnership for excellence and growth PDF icon, the Council endorsed the need for strengthened partnership in the field of research infrastructures and "for renewing and adapting the mandate of ESFRI to adequately address the existing challenges and also to ensure the follow-up of implementation of already on-going ESFRI projects after a comprehensive assessment, as well as the prioritisation of the infrastructure projects listed in the ESFRI roadmap."

The main task of ESFRI is now to help the projects on the roadmap move towards implementation. To keep Europe at the rapidly evolving forefront of science and technology, and to increase the capacity to meet the needs of the EU and World scientific community, much remains to be done: ESFRI looks forward to the challenging times ahead.


Support for Policy-Making on Research Infrastructures in the European Research Area

In 2001, the Council of Ministers recognised the benefits of a European approach on research infrastructures in the context of the European Research Area and invited the Commission, in close collaboration with the Member States, to explore the need for new arrangements to support policies related to research infrastructures.

An expert group, set up to examine the issue, concluded that policy making on research infrastructures of European significance has steadily become more complex and less effective and that a more collective approach was needed to guide policy making in the Member States.

This directly led to the creation of a European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, with the following mandate:

  • To support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on research infrastructures in Europe
  • To facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to a better use and development of research infrastructures
  • The inaugural meeting of ESFRI took place in Brussels on 25 April 2002


Scope of ESFRI

The main scope of ESFRI is to support a coherent and strategy-led approach to policy-making on Research Infrastructures in Europe and to facilitate multilateral initiatives leading to the better use and development of RIs. The Forum acts as an informal body on issues raised by one or more country delegations. ESFRI gives national authorities the opportunity to be informed of and to explore initiatives concerning the building or upgrading of RIs of European significance. ESFRI acts therefore as an incubator for pan-European RIs.

The Forum develops joint reflection work applicable to the development of strategic policies on RIs. It also helps to identify gaps in research capacity associated with RIs on pan-European level and of related strategic needs.

ESFRI also intends to give periodic recommendations on the management of RIs and related human resources. As policy makers, the ESFRI members have finally to communicate the significance and importance of RIs to a wider public.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of topics that might be discussed by the Forum:

  • Joint reflection work (including on benchmarking criteria or evolution of research environment) applicable to the development of strategic policies on Research Infrastructures
  • Exchange of information on national and EU policies, on institutional arrangements and resources, on existing or planned national research infrastructures open to international use
  • Joint development and continuous update of a European Roadmap on research infrastructures and capacity building
  • Analysis of the socioeconomic returns of research infrastructures
  • Exchange of views on new funding instruments and institutional arrangements for pan-European research infrastructures, including access to them
  • Recommendations on management of research infrastructures and related human resources: integrating and training aspects, increase of exchanges, involvement of user communities, including industry
  • Communication to a wider public about importance of research infrastructures, etc

Notwithstanding the wide scope of ESFRI activities, ESFRI does not fund Research Infrastructures; the Forum's role is not to indicate priorities on specific funding sources (national or international, including the Framework Programme), nor on specific research infrastructure related projects.