23 June 2015
Today, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) has renewed its engagement regarding the European Research Area (ERA). It signed a new "Joint Statement" on ERA, together with the other stakeholder organisations in the ERA Platform (CESAER, EARTO, EUA, Science Europe), and the European Commission, represented by Commissioner Carlos Moedas. The engagement is valid until the end of 2019.
The creation of ERA has always been at the centre of LERU’s attention, ever since its inception in the year 2000. Therefore LERU enthusiastically welcomed the European Commission’s initiative in 2012 to join forces in a partnership of stakeholder organisations to further realise ERA, and has worked hard over the past 36 months to live up to the ERA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the EC in July 2012.
In implementing the MoU, (1) we encouraged the LERU universities to carry out actions to deliver on twelve ERA topics agreed in the MoU, (2) we engaged pro-actively with the Stakeholder Platform for the purpose of consultation, and (3) we shared with the European Commission information to monitor the implementation of the MoU. LERU gave an overview of its MoU implementation in a 2014 Briefing Paper "LERU takes concrete steps towards ERA".
The collaborative partnership with the EC and the ERA platform stakeholder organisations has been a positive experience for LERU. Therefore LERU is willing to continue with this ERA partnership in the following years, and is committed to develop appropriate initiatives on the part of universities to help realise ERA. A large number of suggestions for doing so have been made in a May 2014 Briefing Paper "An ERA of Change", drafted in particular for the incoming European Parliament and European Commission.
LERU hopes that the EU member states and others, including research funders, will also contribute their share towards realising the ERA objectives. LERU President Alain Beretz stated: "We hope that they will take ambitious measures, inspired by the LERU papers, to support and enable universities to help achieve a better functioning ERA. We certainly look forward to the national ERA roadmaps, to be developed by mid 2016."
LERU and its universities are willing to support and inspire the future ERA process. However, on a number of issues, such as social security and pensions, open access and data protection, universities are simply not in the driver’s seat, because national or European legal initiatives are required in these cases. LERU therefore hopes that appropriate measures will be taken at the national and EU level to eliminate these obstacles to ERA. LERU Secretary-General Kurt Deketelaere said: "I know that Commissioner Moedas has ruled out the option of using EU legislation to speed up the implementation of ERA, "at least for the time being". However, I think that "the time being" is "running out of time"."