The wording of the Council Conclusions makes it clear that Member State ownership and action is central to the Roadmap process, as it is to the ERA as a whole. This process however has to be taken forward in close partnership between Member States/Associated Countries1, the European Commission and the stakeholder organisations - the “ERA Partnership”. A listing of key documents setting overall policy on ERA, detailed documentation for the different ERA Priorities and important documents produced by stakeholder organisations is at Annex 1.
The December 2014 Competitiveness Council Conclusions on the 2014 Progress Report state that the conditions for the completion of the ERA have already been achieved- however, like the internal market, further work is needed to ensure that it functions in an optimal way. The purpose of the Roadmap is therefore to identify a limited number of key implementation priorities which are likely to have the biggest impact on Europe’s science, research and innovation systems if all the members of the ERA Partnership get them right. It is important to underline that the Roadmap (like the ERA itself) covers both research and innovation.
The Roadmap has been drawn up in full recognition that national research and innovation systems across Europe have different characteristics and that this variety is an asset which Europe needs to exploit to the full. It does not therefore seek to prescribe a series of actions which must be implemented by every Member State, and in one particular way. The intention is rather to draw attention to key areas where action is likely to pay most dividends for the majority of national research and innovation systems by spreading excellence and strengthening their ability to operate at a high level of effectiveness. It also proposes a number of specific actions which might be taken to implement these priorities, whilst acknowledging that these do not necessarily represent a priority for all Member States.
Member States obviously have full autonomy in identifying the approaches most suited to the structures and dynamics of their national research and innovation systems when it comes to implementing these actions (or other relevant priority actions at national level) - though Annex 3 provides a range of positive examples of good practice. Equally, the focus on a limited range of priority actions under each overarching ERA Priority does not imply that other actions aimed at strengthening the ERA (those identified in previous documents are listed at Annex 2) are of lesser value, merely that the actions which have been highlighted are likely to have a particularly profound impact and provide particular benefits if implemented across Europe. There are particularly strong linkages between some of the Priorities (e.g. between Priorities 1 and 2(a)) while others (Priority 4 on gender and Priority 6 on international cooperation),have clear transversal links to all other priorities which need to be taken into account, as should other cross cutting issues such as the role of social sciences and humanities research and closing the research and innovation divide.
The Roadmap identifies actions at national and European level. This recognises both the leading role of Member States in ERA implementation and the value of Horizon 2020 and other European co-operation in supporting this. There is scope to extract more value from European cooperation, whenever possible building on what Europe already does well rather than launching lots of new initiatives.
While primarily addressed to Member States/Associated Countries and the European Commission in its support to their actions, the Roadmap is also of obvious relevance to the key stakeholder organisations included in the ERA Stakeholder Platform. Many of these are also developing policy approaches aimed at tackling the issues identified in the Roadmap and they too can play a vital role in disseminating good practice across Europe.