Researchers – how do you fit into the European scientific community?
This page aims to help you locate yourself in the broader European scientific community and make the most of the opportunities offered (but not always visible) by the European Commission.
In order for every researcher to take advantage of European funding, it is important to understand the Commission’s understanding of the scientific community, what is termed the “European Research Area” and the policies that are created from this perspective.
The European Research Area (ERA)
The European Commission realised that in Europe there were three problems with research in Europe compared to other countries with economically successful research environments such as the USA.
These problems were insufficient funding, lack of an environment to stimulate research and exploit results, incoherant funding and results expoitation policies.
According to the European Commission, 3 concepts are necessary in order to create an efficient and successful “knowledge economy”:
1) the creation of an "internal market" in research, an area of free movement of knowledge, researchers and technology, with the aim of increasing cooperation, stimulating competition and achieving a better allocation of resources;
2) a restructuring of the European research fabric, in particular by improved coordination of national research activities and policies, which account for most of the research carried out and financed in Europe;
3) the development of a European research policy which not only addresses the funding of research activities, but also takes account of all relevant aspects of other EU and national policies.
The main focus of Framework Programme 6 is the first objective: ‘the creation of an “internal market” in research, an area of free movement of knowledge, researchers and technology, with the aim of increasing cooperation, stimulating competition and achieving a better allocation of resources’.
Why is this important for you?
This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. This policy shapes the career path of researchers by creating opportunities for and also expectations and pressure on researchers. For established researchers this means international cooperation to ensure skills and knowledge transfer. For researchers who are just beginning their research careers, this means fellowships and training abroad is highly valued encouraged. Scientists at all career stages are expected to be flexible and be confident enough to reach out and embrace new opportunities. This also means obtaining new skills in communication and languages, administration, accountancy and management to navigate through newer, more complicated grant proceedures.
Mobility of researchers is seen as "an instrument" to transfer knowledge between the academic world and the business world, which is in turn seen as an essential part of building an economically dynamic "knowledge economy". ("Towards a European Research Area", European Commission Communication).
European Commission fellowship grants
The European Commission has developed its own fellowships policy to facilitate this movement of people, cooperation and knowledge sharing. These are called Marie-Curie Actions. To read about the various programmes, please visit the Cordis website (European Commission information service) http://cordis.europa.eu/mariecurie-actions/