Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, April 18, 2008

EU research ministers retreat from OA

Ministers seek new vision for European Research Area, Euractiv, April 16, 2008.  (Thanks to Alma Swan.)

...The EU-27 research ministers and the Commission agreed, on 15 April 2008, on a new partnership called 'Ljubljana Process', which they hope will lead to better exploitation of Europe's research potential and the creation of a genuine European Research Area (ERA)....

[T]he Council agreed on the need for the member states and the Commission to share a long-term vision on ERA, consisting of:

  • A free flow of knowledge, with excellent research and attractive jobs; ...
  • better use of research results, and; 
  • better access to research infrastructure. 

The first version of the vision is expected to be finalised by the end of 2008....

Note that the "free flow of knowledge" is not elaborated to include (or exclude) OA.

Also see the draft summary of the meeting:

...The vision should include the following features: movement of knowledge, the ‘fifth freedom’, with excellent training and attractive career prospects for researchers moving and interacting freely across Europe; ...

Here the "free movement of knowledge" means the free movement of people and nothing more. 

Comment.  In February 2008 it was already clear that the Council was limiting the "free movement of knowledge" (a.k.a. "the fifth freedom") to the movement of people and giving no thought to OA even for publicly-funded research.  See my comments at the time.  However, in March 2008, the prime ministers of the member states took a stronger stand and explicitly included OA in the "free movement of knowledge".  See my comments at the time.  Now it appears that half-measures (and the publishing lobby) have prevailed.

Update (4/21/08). In posts today on the AmSci OA Forum, Napoleon Miradon and Frederick Friend argue that my take on the EU position is too pessimistic. I hope they're right and gladly point OAN readers to their arguments.