The European Research Area
The European Research Area (ERA) comprises the total of activities in science, research and innovation in the European Union. These include supranational a well as national activities.
All these activities enable researchers, research institutions and businesses to increasingly circulate, compete and co-operate across borders. The overarching aim of the ERA concept is to give access to a Europe-wide open space for knowledge and technologies in which transnational synergies and complementarities are fully exploited.
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The process of joint programming has three stages, starting with the development of a common vison with long-term objectives. This vision is subsequently translated into a Strategic Research - and Innovation - Agenda (SRA or SRIA) and finally implemented through specific actions. In the first and second stages joint programming may involve alignment of national policies and research programmes. In the third stage of joint programming, the actual pooling of national research efforts takes place. This way of cooperating strengthens the ERA and provides a strong basis for tackling the Societal Challenges we are facing. These challenges include addressing climate change, ensuring energy and food supply and healthy ageing of citizens.
The alignment of national policies, efforts and capacities is done using a set of instruments, of which the EU Framework Programmes are most familiar. Specific instruments for joint programming include: ERA-NETs, Joint Programming Initiatives, Article 185 Initiatives and the European Joint Programme Cofunds (EJP).
Apart from instruments specifically designed to facilitate joint programming, a variety of supporting actions have been put in place at the European and national level. All these actions focus on exchange of information, learning from each other and creating a better understanding of the concept op joint planning and it’s do’s and don’ts. At EU level, the European Research Area Committee (ERAC) and its high-level working group on joint programming (GPC) are guide the process. All Member States and the European Commission are part of the GPC. This working group has initiated the ten current Joint Programming Initiatives, developed guidelines and framework conditions for joint programming and alignment and continues to improve these guidelines. The GPC also stimulated mutual learning between Member States. One of their actions is the Mutual Learning Exchange (MLE) on alignment and interoperability of research programmes: National Coordination. Examples of peer-to-peer learning networks are PLATFORM, ERA-LEARN 2020 and JPI’s to Co-Work. At national level the Dutch Joint Programming platform offers a forum for JPI coordinators and participants to exchange information between the Dutch JPIs.