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The EU Research Commissioner, Janez Potocnik, is proposing to make "movement of knowledge" a fifth freedom alongside the movement of goods, services, capital, and labor guaranteed by the EU Treaty. He spells out his concept in a new green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives, April 4, 2007. Excerpt:
At several points throughout the paper he inserts a text box with unanswered questions, as if for future discussion. The only mention of open access comes up in Question 21:
Potocnik doesn't mention in this green paper that the EC received strong "yes" answers to this question from an EC-sponsored study in 2006, a December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), and a January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB). His own February 2007 Communication on the subject gave a "yes" answer as well (p. 7): "Initiatives leading to wider access to and dissemination of scientific information are necessary, especially with regard to journal articles and research data produced on the basis of public funding." It's a little late to treat this merely as a topic for future discussion. It's time to firm up the EC's commitment to the answer and to act on it.
Also see the press release on his green paper.
Update. The EC will welcome public comments on Potocnik's green paper from May 1 to August 31, 2007.