chapter  3
23 Pages

The inclusiveness of the European Research Area in the field of social sciences and humanities and the ways and means by which this could be better achieved DIMITRI CORPAKIS

The concept of the European Research Area (ERA) was introduced formally by the European Commission in January 2000 (Commissioner Philippe Busquin), but it had already been referred to by previous Commissioners for Research, without major success. The idea of introducing European ‘Spaces’ or ‘Areas’ (which is originally a French concept better described by the word ‘espace’) has been familiar with major European Community policies, especially when the legal dispositions of the Treaty on the European Union (TUE) would not allow major regulatory approaches from the European legislator (i.e. the Council (of Ministers) and the European Parliament (EP) acting on the basis of Commission proposals); good similar examples in this case are Education policy, as well as the field of Justice and Home Affairs. Such an ‘area’ tends to define the contours of an ideal European space where a certain number of common principles would apply for the highest benefit of the relevant stakeholders and for which it would be rather difficult to adopt legislation. In such cases, voluntary agreements based on broad consensus among the relevant stakeholders tend to act as the driving force that eventually ‘organise’ the ‘space’ or ‘area’. This is largely the case also for the ERA. In the words of the Commission documents:1 ‘ … The ERA concept combines:

a European “internal market” for research, where researchers, technology and knowledge freely circulate; effective European-level coordination of national and regional research activities, programmes and policies; and initiatives implemented and funded at European level. Some progress has been made since the concept was endorsed at the Lisbon European Council in 2000. The European Research Area has become a key reference for research policy in Europe. However, there is still much further to go to build ERA, particularly to overcome the fragmentation of research activities, programmes and policies across Europe.’

Furthermore, the 2007 Green Paper identified some key components of the ERA that are now considered as necessary for the concept to ‘exist’: