Analogically to the Single European Market, the European Research Area is intended to be a space in which scientific knowledge, technology and researchers circulate freely. Germany was the first member state to adopt its national strategy in 2014 and define how the Federal Government will be involved in the European Research Area.
The scientific excellence, commercial success and international competitiveness of the European research landscape all hinge on the cooperation between member states, their research institutes and enterprises. As a political process, the European Research Area creates a unified space in which scientific knowledge, technology and researchers circulate freely. It forms the basis of the cooperation, together with the EU’s research framework programmes as management tools and funding instruments. The EU Member States are actively pursuing the realisation of the European Research Area with the aim of maximising competitiveness and boosting employment. The overarching goal is researcher mobility and the optimal transfer of scientific knowledge. A good education policy is crucial in responding to challenges like globalisation. Therefore, the Member States have been collaborating on a voluntary basis for many years to promote academic mobility or prepare young people for the labour market.
Europe’s transformation into a political, economic and social union – while preserving its cultural diversity – has been marked by great success and major challenges. Education, science, research and innovation are prerequisites for the emergence of fresh ideas and solutions to the major challenges facing society and also for developing new products, services and processes that will eventually find their way into the global marketplace. Innovative solutions safeguard prosperity and create jobs and security for the people of Europe.
With effect as of December 2009, the Treaty of Lisbon enshrines the goal of establishing the European Research Area in the primary legislation of the EU. The European Research Area will guarantee a number of privileges similar to the fundamental freedoms of the internal market – freedom of movement for researchers and the free exchange of scientific findings and technologies. The European Research Area is more than the sum of the activities carried out by Member States. The Member States, the EU institutions and the research organisations have joined forces to improve the framework conditions and facilitate a research landscape that works smoothly across European borders. To this end, the Strategy of the Federal Government on the European Research Area was adopted in July 2014.
In 2009, the education ministers endorsed the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training until 2020 (ET 2020), which was reviewed and updated in 2015. The strategic objectives are to improve the quality of individual areas of education and to enhance creativity and mobility, to name but a few. Furthermore, the EU programme Erasmus+ is also fostering mobility (2014–2020).