What is ERA?

The European Research Area (ERA) is the ambition to create a single, borderless market for research, innovation and technology across the EU.

It helps countries be more effective together, by strongly aligning their research policies and programmes. The free circulation of researchers and knowledge enables

  • better cross-border cooperation
  • building of critical mass
  • continent-wide competition

ERA was launched in 2000 and a process to revitalise it began in 2018.

Commission's plan for a new ERA based on excellence

The new ERA will

  • strengthen mobility of researchers and the flow of knowledge
  • incentivise investing in research and innovation
  • promote gender equality and diversity in science 
  • enhance cooperation among universities, business and other research and innovation actors

Four strategic objectives

  1. prioritise investments and reforms in research and innovation, to support the digital and green transition and Europe’s recovery
  2. improve access to excellent research and innovation for researchers across the EU
  3. translate results into the economy to ensure market uptake of research output and Europe’s competitive leadership in technology
  4. make progress on the free circulation of knowledge, researchers and technology through  stronger cooperation with EU countries

The EU will work on 14 actions in close cooperation with EU countries to achieve these objectives.

The Commission presented how it will revitalise ERA on 30 September.

ERA progress reports

ERA progress reports summarise the state of play of ERA and progress made on its implementation by EU and associated countries.

2018 ERA Progress report

ERAvsCorona action plan

The ERAvsCorona action plan shows ERA's combined strength through close coordination, cooperation, data sharing and joint funding between the Commission and EU countries.

The plan was developed in response to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Research and innovation ministers from all 27 EU countries support the 10 priority actions it contains.

  1. coordinating research and innovation funding against the coronavirus for vaccines, treatments and diagnostics including through an International Pledging Conference
  2. extending and supporting large EU wide clinical trials for clinical management of coronavirus patients
  3. new funding for innovative and rapid health-related approaches to respond to coronavirus
  4. increasing support to innovative companies through the Horizon 2020 European Innovation Council Accelerator pilot and expanding the current EIC Community Platform
  5. creating new opportunities to help access funding sources other than EU funds - for example through a Covid-19 Response Seal of Excellence
  6. establishing a one-stop shop ERA Corona platform for information on EU funding and national actions on coronavirus research
  7. establishing an ad-hoc high level research and innovation task force on the coronavirus
  8. better access to research infrastructures
  9. creating a European COVID-19 Research data sharing platform
  10. pan-EU EUvsVirus Hackathon to mobilise innovators and civil society
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Recommendations to EU countries

To make the European Research Area stronger, national research and innovation policies need to be strengthened too.

Since 2010, the European Semester has been providing EU countries with recommendations, to coordinate and improve social and economic policies across the EU. 

Research and innovation policy recommendations are embedded in this process.

It is a clear example of how cooperation and dialogue between the Commission and EU countries leads to better and more impactful policies.  

Research and innovation in the European Semester 2020

Revitalising ERA: timeline

September 2020

The Commission publishes plan for relaunching ERA

December 2019 - June 2020

ERA Tour des Capitales to prepare for relaunching ERA. The tour gathered input from all stakeholders (national and regional authorities, companies, research institutes and universities and the public) in all EU countries. It included bilateral meetings with the national authorities and surveys.

December 2019

The European Research and Innovation Advisory Committee (ERAC) adopted an Opinion on the future of ERA. EU countries called for existing priorities to be built on and completed. They were open to broadening ERA to be more inclusive and focused on delivering transformative change.

November 2018

The European Council asked the Commission to relaunch ERA in 2020 with revised policy priorities, governance and monitoring at national and EU level.

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