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A new European Research Area

A new European Research Area strengthening Citizens' Engagement

On the 30th of September 2020, the European Commission adopted a Communication on a new European Research Area for Research and Innovation, stating that the European Research Area, launched in 2000 to address the fragmentation of the EU’s research and innovation system, will face the deep societal, ecological and economic challenges that Europe is currently living, by improving the Research and Innovation landscape, accelerating the EU's transition towards climate neutrality and digital leadership, and supporting its recovery from the societal and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

As Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said, “we live in times when scientific activities require faster and effective collaborations. We need to strengthen the European Research Area. An area embracing all of Europe, because knowledge has no territorial boundaries, because scientific knowledge grows with collaborations, because knowledge is trusted if there is open scrutiny of its quality.”1

The Commission set out strategic objectives and actions to be implemented in close cooperation with the Member States, in order to prioritise investments and reforms in research and innovation, improve access to excellence for researchers across the EU and enable research results to reach the market and the real economy.

Addressing the need to engage citizens

One of the core aspects of the new ERA mentioned in the Communication is the engagement of citizens, local communities and civil society in order to achieve greater societal impact and increased trust in science. The document highlights that leaders of R&I institutions, funders and policy makers need to agree on principles, recommendations and good practices for incentivising and rewarding citizen participation to promote trust and facilitate the uptake of science, technology and innovation.
ERA aims to enhance the communication to the wider public on science and promote participatory actions concerning the transformation of our economy and society.

ERA’s strategy for citizens’ engagement will build on already existing initiatives, such as REINFORCE, a H2020 project having the specific objective to engage citizens to contribute in the development of new knowledge for the needs of science and society, increasing their awareness of science and their attitude towards it. In order to do so, the project foresees an active participation of citizens in all of the stages of scientific inquiry, enabling them to cure misconceptions about science and its mission, to analyse data, to propose research questions, ideas and solutions, to directly converse with specialist scientists, and to achieve a measurable and recognized impact in their work.

In order to achieve a high level of citizen engagement in citizen science, a citizen engagement methodology has been developed and it is available at this link.

1 A new European Research Area: Commission sets new plan to support green and digital transition and EU recovery, Press Release, 30 September 2020


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The 30-months project will push the Next Generation Internet a step further by providing cascade funding to EU-based researchers and innovators in carrying out Next Generation Internet related experiments in collaboration with US research teams.

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