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ERA Progress

Robert-Jan Smits

I am proud to present the third edition of the European Research Area (ERA) Progress Report. Much has happened in the European research landscape since the last edition, in 2014. The ERA Roadmap at EU level was endorsed by the Council in early 2015. It called for a limited number of top action priorities having the biggest impact on implementing ERA at national level. Member States were invited to draw up national action plans based on this approach. In addition, Member States and Associated Countries agreed in 2015 on a core set of 24 indicators to measure ERA progress. Data based on these two sources make up the bulk of the 2016 ERA Progress Report, which for the first time really measures progress over time.

The analysis carried out in 2016 shows strong progress in all ERA priorities across the EU. This was possible because of a true partnership between the Member States and the Associated Countries, the Commission and research stakeholder organisations. A novelty in the approach is a robust monitoring mechanism that is now embedded in the process. Together with the Policy Support Facility, we now have powerful tools to drive reform.


Overall, indicators show impressive growth in key areas. Transnational cooperation between Member States grew 7.8% on average per year between 2010 and 2014. The number of international co-publications grew as well, which reflects the increasing internationalisation of science. The indicator for research excellence shows an average year to year increase of 6.4% between 2010 and 2013. I am very encouraged by these results, which clearly show that ERA works.

Through their national action plans, Governments are taking clear political ownership of ERA. This demonstrates a high level of ambition to make further progress based on individual needs. But we cannot be complacent. Research and Innovation policies are increasingly required to deliver and demonstrate impact. This applies to national policies as well as European ones. The achievement of real impact on our societies and economies will be the ultimate benchmark of the quality and relevance of the national action plans. The Commission’s policy agenda on Open Science, Open Innovation and Open to the World will also open up ERA to future challenges, like digitalisation and global networks. There are new barriers to break down.

I expect the Progress Report to help countries define even clearer baselines, timelines and targets when they update their national action plans. This will help us to further increase the impact of our policies.

Robert-Jan SMITS
Director-General for DG Research & Innovation


ERA Progress Report 2016

The European Research Area (ERA) Progress Report 2016 shows strong progress over the last years on all priorities. This was made possible due to a true partnership among Member States, Associated Countries, the Commission and research stakeholder organisations. Focus should now turn towards reinforced implementation to deliver on all ERA priorities and tackle the large disparities between countries. This is the Member States' responsibility, with monitoring and policy support from the Commission.

You can download the documents here:

ERA Progress Report 2016 - report from the Commission to the Council and the Parliament

ERA Progress Report 2016 - Staff Working Document

ERA Progress Report 2016 - Technical Report (Science-Metrix)

ERA Progress Report 2016 - ERA Monitoring Handbook

ERA Progress Report 2016 - Indicators tables

For any further information about the ERA Progress Report 2016, please contact us


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Country Snapshots ERA Progress Report 2016 Excell icon


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