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Career development and mobility, both for the European researchers and for non-European scientists working in the EU

Enshrining the fundamentals of a profession

Background description

With its diverse national and regional traditions, Europe has developed a wide range of employment and working conditions for researchers. This diversity is one of the EU’s key strengths, but it also has its side effects. One such symptom is that the European R&D labour market is highly fragmented which reduces the mobility of European researchers and makes the Union a less attractive destination for foreign talent. However, as the EU pursues its ambitious drive to forge the most competitive and innovative knowledge-based economy in the world, finding ways of ensuring that Europe can establish a functioning and open labour marked for researchers which enables scientific talent to travel to where it is most needed will be a vital ingredient in the recipe for research success.


As part of its bid to help tackle the fragmented nature of the research labour market in Europe, after a broad stakeholder consultation, the European Commission adopted a Recommendation, in March 2005, on the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. These two instruments constitute a holistic approach that provides researchers, as well as employers and funders in both the public and private sectors, with minimum common standards while acknowledging national differences in how researchers are managed.

The Charter addresses the roles, responsibilities and entitlements of researchers and their employers or funding organisations. It aims to ensure that the relationship between these parties contributes to successful performance in the generation, transfer and sharing of knowledge, and to the career development of researchers. The Code seeks to improve recruitment, to make selection procedures fairer and more transparent, and proposes different means of judging merit.

Full title: The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers
Project acronym: European Charter and Code
Project launch: 11 March 2005
European Commission contact person: Sigi Gruber

Science in society significance

Significantly, the Charter and the Code recognise research as a profession in its own right. By so doing, they allow the specific needs of the research community to be taken into account. They will not only help individual researchers to fulfil their potential, but they will also enable a more integrated, open and transparent European labour market for researchers to emerge.

These key instruments will represent pivotal elements in the Union’s policy to make research an attractive career, which is a vital feature of its strategy to stimulate economic and employment growth. Giving individual researchers the same rights and obligations wherever they may work should help counter the fact that research careers in Europe are fragmented at local, regional, national or sectoral level. The two documents will also allow he EU to make the most of its scientific potential to enhance its socio-economic well-being.

Member States have already demonstrated how seriously they take this initiative. At least half a dozen European countries have incorporated the Charter and Code into their national legislation or had them adopted by national university networks or national research councils.


  • Adoption of the Recommendation on the Charter and Code – 11 March 2005;
  • A conference on the Charter and Code held in London under the UK Presidency drew more than 250 participants – September 2005 (;
  • The Charter and Code have been adopted by numerous organisations across Europe.

A full list is available on the website.