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European Research Area (ERA)

The European Research Area (ERA) is a single, borderless market for research and innovation fostering the free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and innovation, and encouraging a more competitive European industry.

The ERA helps countries to be more effective by acting together, by closely aligning their research policies and programmes. The free circulation of researchers and knowledge enables better cross-border cooperation, the building up of critical mass and continent-wide competition.

Spreading excellent research and innovation (R&I) plays a key role in upgrading Europe’s research and innovation system in order for it to drive the digital and climate transitions and to contribute to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ERA was launched in 2000, in the context of the Lisbon strategy. In 2009, the ERA got explicit recognition in Article 179 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which raised the achievement of the ERA to the level of a European Union objective.

Objectives and actions:

As part of the process to revitalise the ERA, the European Commission published its communication ‘A new ERA for Research and Innovation’ on 30 September 2020. The communication announced four 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.

To achieve these objectives the EU and the EU countries will shape the new European Research Area through 14 actions.