The report shows that some progress has been made, but that even the best performing research institutions still have issues to address ahead of the 2014 deadline for ERA, as set
Reforms of national research systems are at the heart of the European Research Area (ERA). More effective national research systems, together with Horizon 2020 which will be
exemplary on delivering on all ERA priorities, will help to provide answers to the European societal challenges ahead. ERA reforms are even more urgent in the context of the recent economic and financial crisis which requires rapid, efficient and growth-generating solutions.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "This report shows that there is still a lot of work to do. Investment in R&D is vital, but we need fully functional research and innovation systems to use that money best. We now need all EU Member States and all those involved in research and research funding to make a major push for ERA."
The European Research Area is about enabling researchers, research institutions and businesses to better move, compete and co-operate across borders. This would strengthen EU Member States´ research systems, increase their competitiveness and allow them to work together more effectively to tackle major challenges.
Even if the report underlines that progress has been achieved in all target areas, it highlights a number of areas of continued concern, including:
- Public investment in R&D as a percentage of overall government spending is declining in some Member States
- National research programmes still operate according to different rules, for example on reporting, which makes transnational research cooperation difficult;
- The development and implementation of infrastructures, such as very intense lasers or extremely large telescopes, is hampered by financial, management and political barriers and often national rules or high entry costs prevent researchers from other Member States from accessing them;
- Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment practices are still not broadly implemented for all research positions; for example, more than half of vacancies are not yet advertised at European level via the EURAXESS jobs portal; this inhibits researcher mobility and may mean that the best person is not always appointed to the job;
- Gender inequality means female researchers´ talent is still being wasted, and this is the area of ERA where progress has been weakest;
- Relatively few researchers in Europe are employed in industry, and these researchers are not sufficiently prepared for the labour market.