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In 2000, the European Union decided to create the European Research Area (ERA), a unified area for research and innovation in Europe which would enable seamless mobility of researchers, and the sharing of knowledge for social, business and policy purposes across borders. The ERA offers support and coordination of the best research in Europe and the development of strong links with partners around the world. As a result, the EU and its Member States benefit from the strengthening of their scientific and technological bases, as well as their competitiveness.

The ERA targets five key priorities where progress needs to be made:

  • More effective national research systems
  • Optimal transnational co-operation and competition
  • An open labour market for researchers
  • Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  • Optimal circulation and transfer of scientific knowledge

An important goal of the ERA is the promotion of growth and job creation which can be achieved by fostering innovation and improving Europe's research performance. Additionally, by enabling researchers to work together more effectively, ERA facilitates the research community in tackling major societal challenges, such as climate change, food and energy security, and public health.