CESAER welcomes ERAC Opinion on Future of ERA with caution

ERAC envisages an ERA that meets the requirements laid down in the Lisbon Treaty, but also proposes to shift from the ´free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology´ to a ´European community of knowledge producers and users´.
18th December 2019
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The universities of science and technology united within CESAER have taken note of the adoption of the Opinion on the Future of the European Research Area (ERA) by the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) on 18 December. Recalling our position on the same topic dated 18th October, we welcome ERAC´s acknowledgement of the fully-functioning ERA that meets the requirements laid down in Article 179, paragraph 1, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and its past achievements. However, we caution from shifting from the ´free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technology´ as laid down in the TFEU to a ´European community of knowledge producers and users´ and urge the European institutions to re-align with the treaty obligation. The same must be said about the shifting from research to knowledge.

“We are very supportive of the proposal to define a set of core principles for the ERA and to promote them. We bring forward the need to safeguard the respect for the rule of law and human rights, the free circulation of knowledge and its bearers, academic freedom and institutional autonomy”, says Rik Van de Walle (President-elect).

Another important element of the ERAC´s opinion concerns the focus on ´inclusiveness´ in terms of reducing inequalities in research performance within the ERA and fragmentation between national research systems: “It is crucial to adopt the highest ambitions for the ERA and to benchmark against the best performing research systems in the world in order to assure a leading role of European research in particular when contributing to ecological, social and economic sustainability”, continues Van de Walle.

Recognising the need for more holistic and comprehensive approaches encompassing research, innovation and education, also with respect to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), Erasmus and the European Universities initiative, we urge to maintain a strong focus on research and to realise concrete and tangible improvements to the free circulation of researchers, knowledge and technologies.

“The ERAC Opinion constitutes a valuable input on the future work of the European Commission. The challenge is to come forward with concrete areas of action in the envisaged European ERA Roadmap 2030 and the national ERA roadmaps. We plea for maintaining the current six priorities as areas for action, to broaden the ́gender equality ́ priority to include Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and to open up the scope of the technology transfer priority also to Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). “The proposal to create ́favourable framework conditions ́ is particularly interesting when addressing issues such as sufficient funding, academic freedom, social security and immigration”, says David Bohmert (Secretary General).

CESAER joined the ERA partnership in 2013, representing our Members in the ERA Stakeholder Organisation (SHO) Platform, and has continuously contributed to realising the ERA ever since. We reaffirm our commitment to assume responsibilities at the levels of our Members and of our network, and to work with the European institutions and wider ERA-communities to bring the ERA to the next level in the years to come. CESAER and its Members are ready to be involved both in the implementation and in the future participatory governance of the ERA, also with a view on involving the citizens more: the over 86,000 staff and over 1 million students at our Members are citizens.

For more information and enquiries, please contact our Secretary General David Bohmert.

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