ALLEA Provides Feedback to European Commission Consultation on Funding for Dual-use Projects

On 24 April, ALLEA responded to a public consultation by the European Commission, where different options are presented to enhance support for research on technologies that may have both civilian and military applications (i.e., dual-use technologies).

At present, European funding programmes for civil research and development projects and those with defence or security applications are strictly separated. However, to boost the EU’s (economic) security and competitiveness, the European Commission is currently exploring ways to promote cross-fertilisation between the two funding instruments.

In its response, ALLEA details how some of the proposed options pose the risk of creating adverse incentives, introducing ambiguity, and imposing additional administrative burdens. In addition, ALLEA stresses that equitable assessment of research proposals should remain central to any solution, and that support for projects with potential dual-use applications should not come at the expense of funding for civil research.

Read the full statement here.

ALLEA Working Group on the ERA Meets to Discuss International Research Collaboration

Semi-annual meeting of ALLEA Working Group on the ERA

 

The ALLEA Working Group on the European Research Area (ERA) met online on 12 March 2024 to address key developments and strategies for the advancement of European research collaboration and funding.

The meeting, attended by representatives from 17 ALLEA Member Academies, featured discussions on critical issues, such as the upcoming EU Framework Programme for Research & Innovation (FP10), the challenges for international research collaboration, and research (in)security in the context of rising geopolitical tensions.

ERA Forum for Transition

Following a warm welcome by the working group chair, Professor Arben Merkoçi from the Academy of Sciences of Albania, the meeting began with a comprehensive update on recent developments within the ERA Forum for Transition, an expert group in which ALLEA represents the European Academies of Sciences and Humanities. Deliberations included progress updates on the ERA Policy Agenda 2025-27 and guidelines for the responsible use of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in research. Additionally, the introduction of the new ERA Policy Platform sparked interest among participants and was welcomed as an important instrument for enhancing collaboration and coordination within the European research community.

Framework Programme 10 (FP10)

Discussions surrounding FP10 highlighted the impact of the recently published ‘ALLEA Statement on the Guiding Principles for FP10′. The lack of sufficient funding for basic and excellent research and the ongoing controversy surrounding ‘widening’ participation in the EU sparked a spirited dialogue among the working group members on how to encourage more inclusive research practices and equitable participation across European regions.

Research collaboration versus research security?

In the context of rising geopolitical tensions around the world, the working group discussed how European research is being adversely affected by malicious interference, and how open research collaboration is being misused in ways that impact Europe’s security, as well as its ethical principles and social norms, such as research integrity, academic freedom, and institutional autonomy. A recent Proposal by the European Commission for a Council Recommendation on Research Security and consultations on a White Paper aimed at enhancing support for research and development involving technologies with dual-use potential were also discussed.

The ALLEA General Assembly 2024, celebrating 30 years of ALLEA, will feature an open forum for ALLEA Member Academies, as well as a Public Symposium, titled, ‘European Research Collaboration in a Shifting Geopolitical Landscape’, to further discuss these topics, which are integral to the future of European research and innovation. Register now!

ALLEA Welcomes Launch of European Research Area Policy Platform

Last week marked a significant step towards a more integrated European Research Area (ERA) with the official launch of the ERA Policy Platform by the European Commission.

This ‘one-stop-shop’ serves as a gateway to comprehensive information on current ERA policies, activities, and achievements. It reflects the joint ambition of EU Member States, the European Commission, associated countries, and Research and Innovation (R&I) stakeholders such as ALLEA for a unified, borderless market for research, innovation, and technology across Europe.

Following this goal enshrined in Article 179 of the Lisbon Treaty, the ERA Policy Platform is an integral part of the new ERA governance framework and the Pact for R&I in Europe. Its multifaceted role includes providing up-to-date information on the implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, showcasing EU-wide activities contributing to ERA progress, and serving as a repository for key ERA-related documents.

As such, the ERA Policy Platform serves as a central space for communication among various stakeholders interested in advancing ERA objectives. EU Member States, countries associated with Horizon Europe, and R&I stakeholder organisations can actively contribute to the platform, fostering collaboration and supporting the ERA monitoring system by sharing relevant information, data, or documents at both national and EU levels. The platform also serves as a source of information for interested citizens, in line with the goal of fostering inclusivity through a borderless market that benefits individuals across Europe.

ALLEA is pleased to contribute valuable insights from the European academies to the platform through the active involvement of its working group on the ERA in the ERA forum. As an umbrella organisation of academies from across Europe, ALLEA’s involvement reflects the collaborative spirit of the ERA’s ambitious objectives.

For more information on the ERA Policy Platform and to explore its features, please visit the European Research Area Platform website: https://european-research-area.ec.europa.eu/.

ALLEA Outlines Its Vision for the Future of European Research and Innovation

Today, ALLEA published a statement on the guiding principles for the forthcoming 10th European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP10), outlining a transformative vision for European Research and Innovation (R&I).

Emphasising the need for a robust FP10, which will run from 2028-2034, and a ring-fenced budget of €200 billion, ALLEA envisions a future where Europe stands at the forefront of global competitiveness and leadership in R&I. The statement advocates for heightened investment, reinforced basic research, Open Science, international collaboration, the nurturing of diverse talent, and streamlined processes to propel European R&I forward. It follows a position submitted to the European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) in September 2023, presenting key guiding principles and recommendations for the seven-year EU research programme.

“Investing in European Research and Innovation is not only a financial commitment, it is much more an investment in our common future. ALLEA envisions a transformative Framework Programme for R&I, which guarantees ambitious investments in science, open collaboration, and excellence across disciplines and borders. With a commitment to diversity, we also call for a more inclusive European Research Area, delivering knowledge for a better tomorrow.”

– Antonio Loprieno, ALLEA President

What’s next?

The budget for FP10 will be defined by the negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) due in the summer of 2025, which will be preceded by an interim evaluation of the Horizon Europe Programme. Seeking expert advice for FP10, the European Commission recently established a high-level group, while Member States are working in parallel on their own report in the ERAC.

Building on the guiding principles outlined in this statement, the European academies stand ready to actively support and engage in these activities and further discussions to design a Framework Programme that will have a positive impact on future societies by fostering collaboration, excellence, and inclusivity.

The statement was drafted by the ALLEA Working Group on the European Research Area (ERA), incorporating insights from the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics (PWGSE) and the ALLEA Open Science Task Force.

Read the statement

 

ALLEA Working Group Gathers in Tirana to Shape Future of European Research Area and FP10

On 13 October 2023, the ALLEA Working Group on the European Research Area (ERA) convened a hybrid meeting in Tirana, hosted by the Academy of Sciences of Albania. The working group expressed its eagerness to actively participate in shaping the next ERA Policy Agenda and the forthcoming EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP10), thereby highlighting its commitment to the ERA’s advancement and to creating opportunities for European and national policymakers to engage with the insights and perspectives of European Academies.  

Professor Skënder Gjinushi, President of the Academy of Sciences of Albania, officially welcomed the working group members who were present and stressed the vital importance of research collaboration within the European Union (EU), while calling for the expansion of the number of states participating in the ERA beyond the bloc. Professor Arben Merkoçi, Chair of the ALLEA Working Group on the ERA, and representing the host academy, opened the meeting, which involved representatives from 17 European academies.  

The meeting kicked off with an engaging discussion concerning the future of the ERA. Key topics debated included the European Commission’s proposal for the next ERA Policy Agenda within the Expert Group on the ERA Forum for Transition, in which ALLEA is participating as a stakeholder organisation. The working group generally welcomed the efforts by the European Commission and the Member States in the ERA Forum to deepen research collaboration in the ERA, as well as the move to streamline actions and reduce complexity. It also highlighted the importance of effective communication and emphasised expanding stakeholder engagement and contextualising actions within a broader political narrative. 

Another central issue discussed was the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP10). Based on the position it had recently submitted to the European Commission, the working group agreed that the central action points in the ERA Forum should also be reflected in the guiding principles for FP10. These principles should include: widening participation, open science, global scientific collaboration, research integrity, academic freedom, a healthy and effective science-policy interface, sustainable research careers, and responsible use of generative AI in research. 

About the ALLEA Working Group on the European Research Area 

The ALLEA Working Group on the ERA aims to contribute to the further development of the ERA, its political framework, implementation and monitoring. The breadth of expertise and geographical representation of the group’s membership aptly reflects the heterogeneity of the ERA itself. Chaired by Professor Arben Merkoçi of the Academy of Sciences of Albania, the working group engages with European institutions, particularly the European Commission, and collaborates with like-minded umbrella organisations from the European research and innovation landscape. 

 

Framework Programme 10: ALLEA Advocates for Widening Scientific Cooperation and Freedom of Research

In a recent stakeholder consultation, ALLEA, through its Working Group on the European Research Area, submitted guiding principles to the European Commission for the development of the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (currently referred to as ‘Framework Programme 10’), the successor of Horizon Europe, which will begin in 2028. Its stance on Framework Programme 10 (FP10) underscores the importance of global thinking and action, widening participation, and promoting research capacities to address ongoing inequalities – within and beyond the EU.

A central theme in the submitted position is the protection of academic freedom and research integrity, which it views as essential for scientific progress and innovation. ALLEA especially calls for greater support for currently underrepresented researchers (including early- to mid-career researchers and researchers from EU15 countries,) and urges funding schemes to foster creativity and innovation.

The position highlights the significance of existing schemes for widening participation in EU research projects, which encourage collaboration and support less well-resourced institutions. It emphasises the need for excellence to be distributed fairly across the EU and neighbouring nations to advance research continuously and effectively, as well as reduce inequalities in the research ecosystem.

ALLEA further stresses the need for strengthening basic research, as well prioritising long-term institutional funding models over project-based financing, simplification of application and evaluation procedures, and the importance of multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary research.

In conclusion, ALLEA’s position on FP10 emphasises global collaboration, widening participation, research freedom, and simplification, ultimately advocating for a more inclusive and diverse approach to European research funding.

The stakeholder consultation was conducted under the umbrella of the European Research and Innovation Area Committee (ERAC) Ad-hoc Task Force on “Guidance for the next Framework Programme for R&I”. This task force will write an opinion, which is due to be adopted by ERAC in June 2024, in order to provide the Commission with timely input for the next Framework Programme.

New Chair Appointed for the Working Group on the ERA

Arben Merkoçi assumes office as the new Chair of the Working Group on the ERA

Arben Merkoçi appointed new Chair of Working Group on the ERA

On 15 June 2023, Arben Merkoçi,  ICREA Professor and Director of the Nanobioelectronics & Biosensors Group at Institut Català de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia (ICN2), was introduced as the new Chair of the Working Group on the European Research Area (ERA) at the group’s first meeting of the year. Prof Merkoçi (Academy of Sciences of Albania) was appointed to the position by the ALLEA Board on the proposal of the ALLEA Presidency. ALLEA welcomes the appointment of Prof Merkoçi as Chair of the Working Group on the ERA and wishes him good luck in his tenure!

Prof Merkoçi takes over the position from Prof Kerstin Sahlin (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) who assumed the role in 2021. ALLEA extends its heartfelt thanks to Prof Sahlin, whose tenure saw the publication of a statement for a new ERA of Freedom and Excellence, among other notable achievements. We also deeply appreciate her continued engagement with the Working Group as a member. 

Building an ERA that Fosters Freedom and Excellence

In a new statement, ALLEA sets priorities for building a new European Research Area (ERA) and for implementing the Policy Action Points developed in the ERA Transition Forum.

In 2021, ALLEA was invited by the European Commission to be part of developing a new European Research Area (ERA) that supports the free circulation of researchers and knowledge, joint and more efficient use of research infrastructure, excellence, attractive careers, equal opportunities, and cooperation between research and innovation actors across Europe. With the ALLEA Statement for an ERA of Freedom and Excellence published today, the European Academies of Sciences and Humanities reflect on the 20 ERA Policy Agenda Action Points developed in the consultations of the ERA Transition Forum, which brings together delegates from the European Commission, Member States, Associated Countries, and Stakeholder Organisations.

The statement has been prepared by the ALLEA Working Group on the ERA, and it welcomes this initiative for a new ERA that reflects the European Academies’ vision for borderless and universal science as a global public good that transcends national and disciplinary boundaries. The statement strongly emphasises the need to enable scientific cooperation, particularly in times of multiple crises. This cooperation should take place in a robust and empowering institutional setting and should be based on good research practices. Accordingly, a strong ERA should be built on the principles of academic freedom, integrity and ethics, excellence, trustworthiness, inclusiveness, openness, sustainability, collaboration, mobility, equality, diversity, equity, as well as thinking and acting globally.

Highlighting these priorities and thereby commenting on various ERA Policy Agenda Action Points, the authors specifically stress the need for safeguarding academic freedom: “This includes advocating clear and unanimous support for Higher Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations facing threats to academic freedom through political circumstances, such as internal or external oppression, or war.”

Other priorities for the ERA Policy Agenda highlighted in the statement are:

  • A continuous focus on scientific excellence as a guiding principle for research assessment as well as funding.
  • A need for fundamental research to sustain a genuinely world class science base in Europe in the long term.
  • An emphasis on establishing truly interdisciplinary partnerships and a recognition of the importance of interdisciplinary and international research collaborations.
  • An awareness of the growing importance and complexity of science-society and science-policy relations and how science relies on trust and trustworthiness.
  • Capacity building and improved accessibility to existing research infrastructure in the EU-13 countries.

Read the full statement for more information on how to implement an effective ERA beneficial for all Europeans.

European Science Organisations Reach Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment

Following a six-month collaborative process involving more than 350 European organisations from over 40 countries, an Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment has been reached and made public today. ALLEA has contributed to the Agreement as part of a core group of 20 research organisations that supported the drafting team throughout the process.

The Agreement summarises a shared vision on how to reform assessment practices for researchers, research projects and research performing organisations, with overarching principles founded on quality, impact, diversity, inclusiveness, and collaboration.

The envisioned reforms are centred around the following four core commitments:

  1. Recognise the diversity of contributions to, and careers in, research in accordance with the needs and nature of the research
  2. Base research assessment primarily on qualitative evaluation for which peer review is central, supported by responsible use of quantitative indicators
  3. Abandon inappropriate uses in research assessment of journal- and publication-based metrics, in particular inappropriate uses of Journal Impact Factor (JIF) and h-index
  4. Avoid the use of rankings of research organisations in research assessment

Several additional supporting commitments aim to enable the move towards new research assessment criteria, tools and processes, and to facilitate mutual learning, communicate progress and ensure that new approaches are evidence informed. The Agreement further includes anticipated timeframes for implementing the reforms and evaluating progress and describes the operational structures for a coalition of organisations devoted to working together to implement the changes.

Next Steps

The collection of signatures to join the Coalition supporting the Agreement will be launched on 28 September 2022 at the EU Research and Innovation Days. A General Assembly of Coalition members will further decide on the governance of the Coalition, the strategy guiding the operations and activities of the Coalition as a whole, its annual work-plan and budget. The first General Assembly is expected to take place towards the end of this year.

As a European umbrella organisation of academies of sciences and humanities, ALLEA was able to provide an interdisciplinary perspective based on shared European academic values. ALLEA contributed to the Agreement through its Permanent Working Group on Science & Ethics and the Working Group European Research Area. Previously, ALLEA had also worked with the Global Young Academy on recommendations on the topic.

In a parallel endeavour, the Council of the European Union has recently adopted its Conclusions on Research Assessment and Implementation of Open Science. ALLEA welcomes the principles set out in the Conclusions for designing novel approaches to research assessment and emphasises that there is no “one-size-fits-all” format: any reforms should be driven by researchers taking responsibility for improving research assessment in their communities, following the core concept of self-regulation set out in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. (Read ALLEA’s full response here)

More information

  • The complete Agreement for Reforming Research Assessment can be found here, as well as an overview of frequently asked questions regarding the Agreement and the Coalition.
  • Further information on the drafting process and the actors involved can be found here.