Recommendations for a renewed ERA

Universities Norway calls for a renewed ERA that upholds scientific knowledge as a fundamental value for Europe, acknowledging the role of academic institutions as a basis for our democratic systems. The right mix of curiosity-driven and mission-oriented R&I, pushing the research frontiers and delivering benefits to society, should drive the new ERA.

Open Science and interdisciplinary approaches should be mainstreamed. Academic career assessment structures and practices should evolve and contribute to a seamless research-based knowledge area in Europe and beyond. Crucially, significant funding and increased political engagement and commitment will secure effectiveness and impact of ERA as a strategic framework at the European, national and regional policy levels. This includes realizing the ERA countries’ goal of investing at least 3% of their GDP in R&I.

The Universities’ role in democracy:

Although established in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, academic freedom can no longer be taken for granted in an increasingly polarized political climate. A focus on core academic values must therefore be the foundation of a renewed ERA. The autonomy of universities and the freedom to pursue academic research are building blocks of a democratic society and the advancement of knowledge, and they act as drivers of economic progress and innovation. The key mission of universities needs to be actively defended, nurtured and pursued through international collaboration. Hence, key for a renewed ERA must be to secure free movement of knowledge as the EU’s fifth freedom.

Open Science

The value of an open and collaborative research process, including open sharing of research-based knowledge is key to solving challenges of our time. Open Science and open innovation should be embraced as core principles of the new ERA narrative. There is still a need for change of culture in academia and beyond regarding open science, as well as to promote transformation of the traditional knowledge ecosystems, both regarding copyrights and the provision of proper incentives and rewards to researchers.

Gender balance and diversity

In research and innovation, Europe can only reach its full potential if we use all of our talent and diversity. Hence, the goals for gender equality and gender perspectives in research in the ERA Roadmap must be retained and reinforced. The new ERA should work in line with priorities laid out in the European Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, including other dimensions such as ethnic background and disability.

Career assessment and policies

Academic career development deserves special attention in the ERA, in particular for early-stage researchers. Seizing the opportunities of a changing European higher education, research and innovation landscape will require career assessment structures to evolve and contribute to a seamless research-based knowledge area. Aligning career structures with policies for higher education, research and innovation, including connecting ERA with The European Higher Education Area (EHEA), will strengthen Europe’s talent base and increase the global attractiveness of the ERA.

Excellent science, disciplines and interdisciplinarity

Society requires research across the full range of disciplinary areas, as well as a need for a right mix of curiosity-driven and mission-oriented research and innovation. The core mission of ERA should be to improve the national and European frameworks for excellent science within and across all disciplines and fields. To deliver solutions on our ambitions, e.g. on The European Green Deal, mainstreaming of interdisciplinary approaches as well connecting scientific and technological advances with social sciences and humanities (SSH) is key.