The ERA-NET Scheme
The objective of the ERA-NET scheme, launched in 2002 under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), is to enhance coordination of national or regional research programmes in the Member States and Associated States. The scheme contributes significantly to the structuring of the European Research Area by favouring actions supported together by several Member States and the Commission (such as joint calls, joint programmes, etc.).
ERA-NETs are a coordination action that aim at reducing the fragmentation of the ERA resulting from the coexistence of several national and regional public research programmes.
Under the ERA-NET scheme, national and regional authorities identify research programmes they wish to coordinate or open up mutually. Accordingly participants in these actions are programme owners (typically ministries or regional authorities defining research programmes) or programme managers (such as research councils or other research funding agencies managing research programmes).
ERA-NETs are – in addition to BILAT and INCO-NET projects – the main instrument used for activities in the area of International Cooperation of the Capacities programme of the 7th Research Framework Programme.
An ERA-NET can include the following activities:
- Systematic exchange of information and best practices with the aim of enhancing the communication between the project partners.
- Strategically targeted activities that develop an evaluation of the options and barriers for cooperation and lead to the development of complementarities and joint objectives of national and regional research projects. Implementation of joint activities (e.g. clustering of nationally and regionally financed research programmes), utilization of multinational evaluation processes, joint training measures or the mutual opening of national infrastructures.
- Transnational research activities, e.g. the formulation of joint strategies and work programmes or the implementation of joint calls for research funding. National funding sources of different Member States can be pooled for this.
The two types of ERA-NETs are:
- ERA-NETs - provide a framework for actors implementing public research programmes to coordinate their activities, e.g. by developing joint activities or by mutually supporting joint calls for transnational proposals.
- ERA-NETs Plus – establish a common funding pot with additional funding obtained from the European Commission ('top-up funding' for joint calls). These schemes are usually based on an already successfully finished ERA-NET.
Only a few ERA-NETs are horizontal, i.e. international ERA-NETS that target the cooperation with selected third countries, like ERA.Net RUS and ERA.Net RUS Plus.