25. June 2008 10:00

EUROHORCs , ESF commit to play key role in shaping a competitive ERA

In an effort to help build a competitive European Research Area (ERA), the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs) and the European Science Foundation (ESF) have published their vision on the ERA and have joined forces in a Road Map with proposed actions to achieve it. 

The ESF EUROHORCs Science Policy Briefing 33, The EUROHORCs and ESF Vision on a Globally Competitive ERA and their Road Map for Actions to Help Build it, details essential requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to build a globally competitive ERA within the next 5-10 years. This Vision is complemented by a Road Map with an outline of concrete actions for EUROHORCs and ESF Member Organisations, as well as partners. 

”EUROHORCs and ESF are committed to play a key role in shaping this ERA and this Road Map is the proof of that commitment.  This policy briefing is a result of our analysis of what is needed and how our members, together with other partners, could contribute.” said ESF President Professor Ian Halliday and the President of the EUROHORCs Professor Pär Omling in a joint statement.

A Task Force established by the EUROHORCs and ESF, chaired by DFG President Professor Matthias Kleiner, prepared the Vision and Road Map. The Task Force emphasises that building such an ERA requires the involvement of a variety of actors: national and European research organisations, national governments, the EU and the private sector.

In their latest briefing the EUROHORCs and  ESF list 10 essential criteria (Vision Points) that need to be met in building a successful European Research Area:  1.) An effective European research policy, capitalizing on cultural, geographic and scientific diversity  2.) A stimulating education system  3.) A single European labour market for researchers  4.) Adequate funding for top quality curiosity-driven research  5.) Cross-national funding, benchmarking of quality and shared scientific priorities for strategic research and bottom up researcher-driven programmes  6.) Excellent research institutions  7.) World-class research infrastructures  8.) Open access to the output of publicly funded research and permanent access to primary quality assured research data 9.) Effective and trusted bridges between science, society and the private sector  10.) Openness to the world.

EUROHORCs and ESF and their Member Organisations are committed to develop concrete actions in 11 domains to help construct the ERA. The domains are described hereafter together with an indication of the type of actions that will be considered.

Proposed Action Plan

1) Strengthening the dialogue between research organisations and political actors at the European level (Addresses Vision point 1)
2)  Promoting European research careers (Addresses Vision points 2 and 3)
3)  Scientific foresight as a basis for joint strategy development (Addresses Vision point 5)
4)  Developing the ERA towards a European Grant Union (Addresses Vision points 3, 4 and 5)
5)  Peer Review of researchers and proposals at the European level (Addresses Vision point 5)
6)  Ex-post evaluation of research projects and programmes (Addresses Vision point 5)
7)  ERA Connect and Regional Clusters of Excellence (Addresses Vision point 6)
8)  Shared funding and exploitation of medium-sized research infrastructure (Addresses Vision point 7)
9)  Common policy on Open Access and Permanent Access to research data (Addresses Vision point 8)
10)  Strengthening the relations between science, society and the private sector (Addresses Vision point 9)
11) Connecting European research to the world (Addresses Vision point 10)

For more details about the Action Plan – please go to

The Task Force is now collecting comments from the member organisations, which will be used in the further elaboration of the actions identified in the outline of the Road Map. Concrete action plans to be approved in coming governance meetings of ESF and EUROHORCs are currently being prepared. Following this approval, Member Organisations will be invited to sign up for the implementation of the actions.

Notes to Editor

The report was produced by a group of top experts in the field, chaired by Professor Matthias Kleiner, Chair of the EUROHORCs - ESF Task Force / President, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Bonn – Germany
Task Force Members
Professor Pär Omling, President of the European Heads of Research Councils (EUROHORCs) / General
Director Vetenskapsrådet - Swedish Research Council, Stockholm – Sweden
Professor Ian Halliday, President, European Science Foundation (ESF) Strasbourg – France
Professor Peter Gruss, President, Max-Planck-Gesellschaft München – Germany
Professor Gabor Makara, President, Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA) Budapest, Hungary
Professor Marja Makarow, Chief Executive, European Science Foundation (ESF) Strasbourg, France
Dr. Arnold Migus, Director General, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Paris, France
Dr. Ebba Nexø, Vice chair, The Danish Councils for Independent Research Copenhagen - Denmark
Dr. John Marks, Secretary of the EUROHORCs -ESF Task Force / Deputy Chief Executive - Director of
Science and Strategy, European Science Foundation, (ESF) Strasbourg – France

This latest Briefing (SPB No. 33) follows last year’s EUROHORCs and ESF’s comments on the European Commission’s Green Paper: The European Research Area: New Perspectives. 

At last year’s briefing the EUROHORCs -ESF Task Force commented the European Commission needs to engage and focus more on the national research funding and performing organisations, the private sector, and the non-European research systems for the development of the European Research Area (ERA) if it is serious about establishing a comprehensive ERA, according to the Heads of European Research Councils (EUROHORCs) and the European Science Foundations (ESF).

EUROHORCs and ESF also suggested that the EU should inject more resources into basic research through programmes such as the European Research Council (ERC), a move to reduce EU’s bureaucracy, and to put pressure on its member states to remove the still abundant barriers to the mobility of researchers.

These responses came after a request by the EU Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik to seek public comment and recommendation for the Green Paper on the ERA.

Media contact:

Mr. Thomas LauE-Mail