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European Research Area (ERA) Progress Report 2013

24 September 2013
by eub2 -- last modified 24 September 2013

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 that even the best performing research institutions still have issues to address ahead of the 2014 deadline for ERA, as set by EU leaders. There is also a significant gap between the best and the worst performers. This guide explains the objectives and results of the European Research Area (ERA) Progress Report that presents for the first time a comprehensive overview of the political context, steps taken and recent achievements towards completing a single market for research. The report is accompanied by the document ERA Facts & Figures where the state of play in each of the ERA priorities in EU Member States and countries associated to the EU research framework programme are presented. More detail on the situation in each country is presented in 'Country fiches'.


Why is the Commission publishing an ERA Progress Report?

The Commission is pursuing a non-legislative approach for the completion of ERA by 2014, the deadline set by European Union leaders. This approach requires robust monitoring to ensure appropriate policy coordination by Member States and the Commission. The ERA Progress Report presents the state of play of ERA, providing a basis for future assessments and policy making.

What are key findings of the report?

Public spending on research (GBAORD), as measured as a share of total general government expenditure, has been declining in the EU since 2009 and, at 1.47% in 2011, is now at the lowest level since 2002. In some Member States, public research effort is declining while total national expenditure is growing.

Slope of linear regressions for the evolution of total general government expenditures and GBAORD between 2007 and 2011 (2007=1)

Source: DG RTD on the basis of Eurostat data

Assessment of progress in five ERA priority areas:

1. Effectiveness of national research systems

All countries allocate some research funding through competitive calls for projects and institutional funding is increasingly linked with an assessment of research performance. However, the importance of competitive funding is not fully identifiable.

2. Transnational cooperation

On average, only 3.8% of R&D budgets are directed towards transnational coordinated research, and 1% to research activities stricto sensu (based on data provided by 21 MS) (see graph). More than 80% of funding organisations share eligibility criteria, but only around 30% of them implement common priorities and common selection decisions (ERA Survey 2012).

National public funding to transnationally coordinated research by category

3. Open labour market for researchers

The implementation modalities of open recruitment differ from country to country. The EU research jobs portal, EURAXESS, is increasing its importance as a gateway to employment: from 7,500 jobs advertised in 2010 up to 36,500 in 2012.

Around 40% of researchers associated to European Higher Education Institutes are 'dissatisfied' with the extent to which research job vacancies are publicly advertised and made known by their institutions (MORE2 survey).

Member States and Associated Countries continue to support the implementation of the Code and Charter (C&C) which aim to improve researchers' working conditions. More than 480 organisations from 35 countries in Europe and beyond have explicitly endorsed the principles underlying the C&C. Award of the 'HR Excellence in Research' logo recognises institutional progress in implementing C&C principles. So far, 148 organisations have received the logo.

Around 31% of EU post-PhD researchers have worked abroad (EU or worldwide) as researchers for more than three months at least once during the last ten years.

Europe has fewer researchers employed in industry than its main competitors: 45% of total researchers in the EU compared with 78% in the US, 74% in Japan and 62% in China. At the same time Europe continues to train an increasing number of PhDs (115,000 graduated in 2010).

4. Gender equality and mainstreaming in research

Too few women are in leadership positions or involved in decision-making: in 2010, women represented only 19.8% of senior academic staff; 15.5 % of heads of institutions; and 10% of Rectors in the higher education sector.

Less than 20% of research performing organisations apply recruitment and promotion policies and provide support to leadership development for female researchers. About 23% have drawn up a gender equality plan or strategy and around 20% include a gender dimension in research and innovation content of programmes, projects and studies (ERA Survey 2012).

5. Optimal circulation and transfer of scientific knowledge

Open Access to publicly-funded scientific content is increasing in Europe. Around 50% of research performers indicated that their publications are in Open Access, and almost half of research performing organisations have compatible data repositories (ERA Survey 2012).

Knowledge Transfer policy is generally accepted as an important issue in Europe. All Member States have taken action to bridge the gap between academia and industry. In a vast majority of countries (90%), national and regional governments promote policies and procedures for the management of Intellectual Property resulting from public funding.

More than 60% of funders support knowledge transfer, notably by encouraging or requiring the setting up of collaboration agreements with the private sector, the commercialisation of research results and providing guidance and tools to accompany the implementation of knowledge transfer (ERA Survey 2012)

A quarter of Member States support a wide range of actions to promote a digital ERA (provision of digital research services, development of e-infrastructures and seamless electronic access) whilst at least 14 other Member States are partly promoting some of the necessary measures. Around 20% of funding organisations are funding the development and uptake of digital research services (ERA Survey 2012).

More than 50% of research performers are already implementing several types of services (repositories, software provision, computing services). Over 40% of research performers are participating in electronic identity federation schemes for researchers (ERA Survey 2012).

How will this Report be used?

The ERA Progress Report provides the basis for policy steering of ERA. It will facilitate the interaction between Member States and the Commission to identify areas where further progress at national level is needed. It will also allow exchanges between research performing organisations and public authorities to move forward the ERA political agenda. Finally, it constitutes an important basis for Member States to identify and compare how they are doing and identify best practices.

How was this Report produced? (Methodology)

Information on national policy measures was gathered from several sources, notably information included in the National Reform Programmes 2013, and a list of measures identified by the Institute for Prospective and Technological Studies of the Joint Research Centre, and also from the Researchers Report 2013. The Commission consulted national authorities on the list of measures.

Assessing implementation of ERA also requires information at the level of research organisations and little information is available in official statistics. Therefore, the Commission launched a survey of research-funding and research-performing organisations in all Member States and countries associated to the EU framework programme.. The results should be considered with caution, as they reflect only the situation in those organisations which answered the survey.

Results from the MORE2 study were also included in the analysis.

What is the Researchers Report 2013?

The Researchers Report serves as the main monitoring tool in assessing progress towards an open and attractive European labour market for researchers. A series of country profiles, validated by Member States, provide a comprehensive picture of national measures taken to address a range of issues affecting researchers. The report uses quantitative data from a wide range of sources, including the MORE2 study, Eurostat and the OECD. Qualitative information comes largely from an extensive annual reporting exercise with the Member States. Data are presented at both EU and Member State level and offer comparisons where possible with the U.S., Japan and China. The report is structured along seven themes: Stock of researchers; Gender; Open, transparent and merit-based recruitment; Education and training; Working conditions; Collaboration between academia and industry; Mobility and international attractiveness.

What is the MORE2 Study?

The MORE2 study provides a wealth of internationally comparable data, indicators and analysis on the mobility patterns and career paths of researchers. It is based on the results from a survey of more than 10,000 researchers currently working in EU universities and a second survey of more than 4,000 researchers currently working outside the EU. A large-scale case study was also carried out on the remuneration of researchers in around 45 countries.

ERA Progress Report 2013