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The European Research Area Board (ERAB) – a consultative body advising the EU on the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) – has earlier this month come out with its first annual report. The report states that the EU’s relative importance to world innovation is in decline (its global share of patent applications, for instance, has dropped 14% over the past six years). In order to achieve the vision of the ERA, as a common market of excellence for ideas, technologies and researchers, a ‘new Renaissance’, defined by a considerable increase in public funding (Europe’s research universities, at present receive 1.1 % of EU’s GDP, compared to 2.6 % in the United States) is needed.
The report outlines six policy goals, covering a number of broad science and innovation themes. The goals are intended as a blueprint to achieving an ERA by 2030, which is united in its efforts to address the ‘grand challenges’ of our time, rather than divided by competition among a ‘patchwork’ of national and institutional R&D projects. The 22 experts of the ERAB, headed by Professor John Wood, call for a ‘new social contract’ based on the sharing of responsibility between science, policy and society, and a stronger focus on public-private partnership, where excellence through greater risk-taking in research is encouraged, and where greater cohesion can be achieved, not least by a less bureaucratic EU R&D system.
At the same time the ERAWATCH network of national experts – also supporting policy making in the research field in Europe – has come out with its Policy Mix Country Reports 2009. The reports cover the 27 EU Member State and the six Associate States to the Framework Programme (Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) and assess the progress made at the national level, in policy mixes and R&D investments, in terms of individual countries’ contribution to achieving the ERA.