Germany’s strong commitment

As a major home of research and innovation in the EU, Germany has a particular responsibility to strategically expand research excellence in Europe. Such excellence is ultimately the foundation of stability and prosperity. 

Joint European research and innovation benefit the future of the entire European continent. Climate change, pandemics, and sustainability are examples of topics that affect and concern all European nations, and scientific ingenuity and discovery are sure to be behind efforts to manage them successfully. After all, no country can solve the challenges of our times on its own – as the fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates. An efficient European Research Area (ERA) allows us to actively shape our futures.

The BMBF strengthens the German research community in the European context

The commitment of the member states remains the key to ensuring a dynamic and innovative ERA that can specifically contribute to issues such as global healthcare, green growth, or digital innovation. As a home of science with excellent international links, Germany has a particular responsibility to expand the ERA into a stable foundation for research in Europe. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) backs the European Research Area with its funding programme, “The European Innovation Union – Germany’s Commitment to the European Research Area”. Over and above the financial commitments within the ERA, the BMBF is providing 40 million euros to strengthen the ERA locally and accelerate the pan-European networking of German researchers. The money will help the German research community to initiate European cooperation projects and form alliances. Because science is crucial to Europe’s future and joint action is now more important than ever, the programme particularly promotes cooperation and networking with actors from industry and society. 

RA strengthens European knowledge transfer 

The funding programme is designed to support the expansion of research systems in countries with weaker research capabilities, ensuring that knowledge transfer across Europe takes place smoothly and in a spirit of solidarity. After all, it is important for the EU to have the right infrastructures for excellence in research. Only then can we work better on joint and effective solutions. In some fields of technology, such as artificial intelligence, microelectronics, or high-performance computing, this is already common practice. The funding programme is set to further mobilise existing expertise across Europe – in communication systems, in materials and battery research, in production and quantum technologies, and in the expansion of data infrastructures – in an ERA that unites excellence and values. 

Better together

Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek is also convinced that innovation can best thrive by increasing cooperation within the European Research Area. In addition to top-level research, there is also a need for more international cooperation on green technologies – as the only way to achieve ambitious climate targets and the European “Green Deal”. The European initiative for green hydrogen, which will help to ensure that the energy transition succeeds, is just one of many examples. Beyond its contribution to climate mitigation this initiative serves to strengthen Europe’s economic competitiveness. 

Boosting trust in research

The ERA will be a motor of change when science, business, society, and governments work together in a spirit of cooperation to generate and disseminate knowledge. If strategies are rolled out across disciplines and sectors throughout Europe, the ERA will become more dynamic and influential. The BMBF is also committed to this funding programme because it strives to increase the broad participation of all stakeholders, including citizens. Participation, for example through citizen science initiatives, creates a sense of community across national borders and boosts acceptance of the ERA within society. As an example, the successful citizen science action, “Plastic Pirates – The Sea Begins Here!,” in which young people collect and document plastic waste in and around German waterways, is joined by other EU countries and expanded to form “Plastic Pirates – Go Europe!”

Jugendaktion „Plastikpiraten – Das Meer beginnt hier!“: Fabian Stiller, Melanie Baasch und Lena Weiß vom Friedrich-Schiller-Gymnasium Preetz nehmen Plastikproben an der Kieler Förde.

BMBF/Wissenschaftsjahr 2016*17