Reforming and enhancing the European R&I system (ERA)

Various activities are funded under the ERA to strengthen Europe’s research and innovation system. The aim is to ensure that knowledge and highly-skilled workforce can circulate freely in the Union, that research outputs are shared rapidly and efficiently, that researchers benefit from attractive career paths, that gender equality is ensured, that Member States and associated countries develop common strategic research agendas, aligning national plans, defining and implementing joint programmes, and that the outcomes of R&I are understood and trusted by informed citizens and benefit society as a whole. Universities must be modernized and high ethical standards must be respected.

The overarching goal is to further expand the European Research Area and intensify collaboration. An important point of reference here is the European Commission’s communication “A new European Research Area for Research and Innovation“. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind the contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Within the area of Reforming and enhancing the European R&I system, we can distinguish 14 subject areas. These are set out in the legal texts of Horizon Europe and all aim to contribute to reforming and strengthening the EU’s research and innovation system:

  • providing researchers with attractive career environments, skills and competences needed in the modern knowledge economy as well as linking the ERA and the European Higher Education Area by supporting the modernisation of universities and other R&I organisations;

  • accelerating the transition towards open science;

  • citizen science, supporting all types of formal, non-formal and informal science education, ensuring a more effective and responsible engagement of citizens;

  • supporting and monitoring gender equality as well as other forms of diversity in scientific careers and in decision-making;

  • ethics and integrity in research and innovation;

  • dissemination and exploitation of R&I results, data and knowledge, science communication;

  • strengthening the evidence base for research and innovation policy;

  • foresight activities to anticipate emerging needs and trends;

  • support to policy makers, funding bodies, research performing organizations (including universities) or advisory groups in the development of the European Research Area;

  • support to national research and innovation policy reforms, including through a strengthened set of services of the Policy Support Facility;

  • supporting international cooperation;

  • scientific contributions to other policy areas;

  • support for the implementation of the Horizon Europe program;

  • support for National Contact Points.

Some of the above-mentioned priorities are a continuation of the thematic areas previously financed under the Horizon 2020 Science with and for Society programme. These include citizen science, open science, gender equality or ethics and research integrity.  SiS.net – the international network of National Contact Points (NCPs) for Science with and for Society in Horizon 2020 has developed a very useful factsheet on  SwafS areas in Horizon Europe as an aid for guiding the Science with and for Society community and stakeholders to opportunities in Horizon Europe. The network has produced many other studies that are still up-to-date and available on their website such as Policy briefs or Success Stories.