'Single market' for research closer, but not yet a reality
The report provides a factual base for assessing progress in target areas like open and fair recruitment of researchers or better circulation of scientific knowledge. It shows that some progress has been made, but even the best performing research institutions still have issues to address ahead of the 2014 deadline for ERA, as set by EU leaders.
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."
EU leaders have repeatedly stressed the importance of completing the European Research Area. 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.
The report shows that progress has been achieved in all target areas, but a number of areas are still of continued concern:
- 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 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.
- Relatively few researchers in Europe are employed in industry, and these researchers are not sufficiently prepared for the labour market.
- Gender inequality means female researchers' talent is still being wasted, and this is the area of ERA where progress has been weakest