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New EU package to bolster research careers

In July, the European Commission presented a set of measures to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA), aiming to promote attractive and sustainable research careers and further bolster Europe’s attractiveness on the global stage, among others. The suggested measures include:

  • A proposal for a Council Recommendation establishing a new European framework for research careers;
  • A new Charter for Researchers, including new and revised principles, to replace the 2005 Charter and Code for Researchers;
  • The European Competence Framework for Researchers (ResearchComp), to support researchers’ mobility across sectors.

The proposed Council Recommendation addresses research career challenges in Europe with an all-sector approach. It covers a wide range of aspects related to defining “researcher” and “research professions”, as well as the recognition of their value. It tackles recruitment and working conditions, skills for inter-sectoral and inter-disciplinary careers, entrepreneurship and innovation,fainrenss in career development and progression, the promotion of a balanced talent circulation  and support actions for research careers. The Recommendation also proposes effective monitoring of research careers through a dedicated observatory.

The new Charter for Researchers outlines updated principles and a streamlined structure addressing researchers, research employers, and funders in the public and private sectors. It is presented as a key EU policy instrument to boost attractive research careers and facilitate implementation by research performing and research funding organisations.

ResearchComp is the first EU Competence Framework for Researchers. It will support equipping researchers with transversal skills necessary for careers in all sectors of society, such as academia, business and industry, public administration, or entrepreneurship (including the development of own start-ups). The new website will support adapting doctoral training as well as targeted training opportunities, including leading to micro-credentials. It will also enable researchers to gain a clear overview of their transversal skills and to upskill where necessary.

Member states will discuss the Commission's proposal for a Council Recommendation, including the new Charter for Researchers, with a view to the final adoption by the Council.

In parallel, the European Commission is working on a related Council recommendation on attractive and sustainable careers in higher education, expected to be adopted next year (for more details, see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, June 2023). In the spring of this year, the European Commission's Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) conducted a consultation on the feasibility of such a European framework in higher education through a dedicated survey.

The two frameworks could potentially work in a truly synergetic manner and foster university careers from their own perspectives. However, one comprehensive framework encompassing all aspects of academic careers would be a real breakthrough not only bringing the ERA and EEA closer to each other but also strengthening Europe’s competitiveness and attractiveness to global talent.