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.

International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD) Opening Ceremony

The International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD), celebrated in 2022, recognises that basic sciences are vital to attain sustainable development and to improve the quality of life for people all over the world.

At the Opening Ceremony, which will take place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, and will be streamed online, Ministers in charge of Scientific Research, Higher Education and Innovation will debate with scientists about the importance of basic sciences in addressing the challenges set up by the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

ALLEA Welcomes Council Conclusions on Research Assessment and Open Science

ALLEA welcomes the adoption of the Conclusions on Research Assessment and Implementation of Open Science by the Council of the European Union on 10 June. See ALLEA’s full response here.

The Conclusions are in agreement with points that ALLEA has made over the years, in particular on the necessity of appropriately implementing and rewarding open science practices and the development of research assessment criteria that follow principles of excellence, research integrity and trustworthy science.

At the same time, ALLEA continues to stress that it matters how we open knowledge, as the push for Open Access publishing has also paved the way for various unethical publishing practices. The inappropriate use of journal- and publication-based metrics in funding, hiring and promotion decisions has been one of the obstacles in the transition to a more open science, and furthermore fails to recognize and reward the diverse set of competencies, activities, and outputs needed for our research ecosystem to flourish.

ALLEA therefore welcomes the principles set out in the Conclusion for designing novel approaches to research assessment, with particular weight on recognizing (1) the critical role for peer review in research assessment and (2) the importance of integrity and ethics in developing criteria focused on quality and impact. 

ALLEA underscores that the described reforms are urgently needed and require concerted efforts from the international academic community, supported by infrastructures for exchanging best practices as well as the necessary financial resources to implement these. 

Read ALLEA’s full response

ALLEA Working Group European Research Area meets in Stockholm

On Wednesday 6 April, the ALLEA Working Group European Research Area (ERA) met in Stockholm for its first in-person meeting. Representatives of European Academies gathered at the premises of the Royal Swedish Academy as well as remotely to discuss the most pressing issues regarding a new ERA for Research and Innovation”.

The meeting was opened with a warm welcome and introduction by the Working Group Chair, Professor Kerstin Sahlin (Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences & Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities). This was followed by a statement from Professor Volodymyr Radchenko, member of the Working Group who joined the meeting remotely from Kiev on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. In his statement, Professor Radchenko thanked the European Academies for their ongoing support to Ukrainian researchers fleeing the war and lauded them for taking a clear stance in condemning the Russian invasion, while also calling for more support of researchers and research infrastructures within Ukraine*.

After Professor Radchenko’s moving intervention, ALLEA Board Member Maarten Prak (KNAW) stressed how academic cooperation has always been crucial in the creation of a shared (European) culture and identity, yet he also highlighted that the current war clearly shows that there is still a long way to go in overcoming major obstacles and challenges. This proves how important it is to further build and strengthen a European Research Area which works to promote peace, research integrity, academic freedom, and equal opportunities for all.

ALLEA participates in the ongoing ERA Forum Experts Group meetings as a stakeholder representing the European Academies of Sciences and Humanities. The ERA Forum is co-chaired by the European Commission and EU Member States. Associated countries and representatives of seven types of stakeholders are invited to join the meetings. The Forum has been established to implement and coordinate the objectives of the ERA, particularly by implementing the jointly developed ERA Policy Agenda.

The group generally welcomed the initiative for a stronger ERA and expressed their appreciation that the research community is actively involved in the process of drafting and commenting new policies. Among others, they stressed the importance to focus on excellence, young researchersmobility and career development, stopping the brain drain in some central and eastern European countries, international cooperation beyond Europe, research assessment and evaluation, and the opportunities for open science and its potentially dangerous impact on young researchers, the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, as well as research integrity.

In the months to come, the outcomes of this meeting will further inform ALLEA’s feedback to the European Commission. The results of this process are expected towards the end of the year.

Members of the ALLEA Working Group European Research Area gathered in Stockholm on 6 April 2022.

ALLEA is very grateful to the Working Group members for their active participation, and we also wish to thank the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy for Letters, History and Antiquities for hosting this meeting and the following dinner. Everyone expressed their excitement of meeting in person again and look forward to shaping the development of a new ERA for Research and Innovation on behalf of the European Academies.  

For more information visit the webpage of ALLEA’s Working Group European Research Area (ERA)


*See ALLEA’s European Fund for Displaced Scientists and the response by the scientific community in support of Ukraine for more information on how Ukrainian research and researchers are being supported in and outside Ukraine.