Context and challenges
Putting ERA into overdrive
The European Research Area was conceived to increase the coherence and impact of European research. In its founding document, Towards a European Research Area, it cites several concrete challenges it aims to meet.
Human resources are key
These include better use of scientific resources and facilities at the European level, more dynamic private investment in R&D, increased human resources and researcher mobility, as well as providing conditions more conducive for a research area of ‘shared values’.
At its core, ERA aims to pool dispersed resources and expertise so that important and rewarding projects can be undertaken. Through improved information exchange and coordination, the aim is to help cut back on red tape – increasing efficiency and confidence in the process.
To breathe life into ERA, the Commission published a document entitled Making a reality of ERA: Guidelines for EU Research Activities, which also helped shape the Sixth Framework Programme for research.
Among other things, it highlights the importance of networking national research programmes and the value of coordinated and targeted EU research projects and infrastructure. It also stresses the central role that human resources – i.e. women and science, researcher mobility issues, science and youth – play in invigorating European science and technology in an expanding Union.