Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Sunday, April 13, 2008

EC lays down EURAB, launches ERAB

European Commission nominates high-level advisory group on research and science, a press release from the EC, April 11, 2008. 

The European Commission announced today the names of 22 personalities who will make up the European Research Area Board (ERAB). These persons come from the fields of science, academia and business and will provide independent and authoritative advice to the European Commission on European research and science policy, whose objective is to realise a European Research Area.

Janez Potocnik, Commissioner for Science and Research said: "The debate on the Green Paper on the future of science in Europe has shown that there is strong need and support for making research in Europe more European. This can only be done in partnership with Member States, the research community, business and many other stakeholders. I count on the new ERAB to advise me and the Commission services on how we can facilitate the development of a true European Research Area."

ERAB is expected to play a key role in helping to develop, promote and evaluate policy initiatives and actions to meet the goals of the European Research Area. It underlines the importance the Commission attaches to drawing on independent expertise and advice in a policy area that is set to further climb on the EU's political agenda. One of ERAB's key tasks will be to provide the Commission with an annual report on "the state of the European Research Area".

ERAB succeeds and builds on the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), whose mandate ran from 2001 to 2007. In its Green Paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives, the Commission announced a reform of EURAB in order to enhance its role. Over the course of six years EURAB issued over 30 reports and recommendations including on: ...Scientific publication: policy on open access....

The members of ERAB have been appointed in a personal capacity. The list of members was proposed to the Commission by an independent high-level committee, established for this purpose in 2007.... 


  • I've posted frequently in the past about Potocnik's April 2007 green paper, The European Research Area: New Perspectives.  The good news is that the green paper asks (in Question 21) whether the EU needs an OA mandate.  The bad news is that Potocnik and the European Commission already had abundant evidence that the answer was yes, making it hard to shake the suspicion that the question itself was a delaying tactic designed to disregard the existing evidence and start over.  When the green paper appeared in April 2007, Potocnik and the European Commission had already aired the question at the EC-hosted Brussels conference of February 2007.  In the build-up to the conference, they received strong OA recommendations from an EC-sponsored study in 2006, a December 2006 statement from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), a January 2007 report from the European Research Advisory Board (EURAB), and a petition signed at the time by more than 20,000 European researchers and research institution (and signed today by more than 27,000).  The EC's own Research Directorate-General --which also released the green paper-- supported OA in its February 2007 Communication (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."  BTW, over 80% of the public comments on the green paper endorsed an OA mandate for the EU.
  • Another reason for discouragement is that the birth of ERAB means the death of EURAB, whose OA recommendations were among the strongest and most careful ever crafted.  Why did the EC have to lay down EURAB and launch a successor?  The two groups seem to have the same mission --to advise the EC on science policy.  And EURAB had years of experience and institutional memory.  Again, it's hard to shake the suspicion that part of the reason is to delay serious policy-making by putting aside existing advice and asking for new advice.
  • There is good news, however, in that at least three of the 22 nominees to serve on ERAB are supporters of OA:  Robert Aymar, Director General of CERN, Georg Winckler, President the EAU, and John Wood, former Chairman of ESFRI and CCLRC and current Principal of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College London.  (There may be many others; I'm not familiar with most of the names.)
  • Two pleas for ERAB:  Start where EURAB, the EU petition, and the public comments on the green paper left off, and work for the widely-supported OA mandate for the EU.  Don't delay this long-awaited and deeply-vetted policy by starting over.