Workshop 4: The ERA and the European Higher Education Area

Earth by night

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Central questions in workshop 4: The ERA and the European Higher Education Area

  • How can links be strengthened between the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area?
  • How can European and national programmes be combined in the areas of research and education?
  • What are the topics or projects that could contribute to bringing research and higher education closer at EU level?

This workshop was held in English.



  • Eva-Maria Streier, Science Consulting and Science Communication


  • Lidia Borrell-Damian, Director for Research and Innovation, European University Association
  • Gerhard Duda, Head of Department Research Affairs, German Rectors' Conference (HRK)
  • Patricia Pol, Vice-Chair of the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) for the European Higher Education Area
  • Paul Harris, Directorate-General for Education and Culture, European Commission

Information on the panellists

Workshop description

The goal of realising the European Research Area (ERA) has been anchored in primary law since the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 and constitutes a binding task for all concerned, i.e. the European Commission and the EU Member States. Both parties have identified six fields of action for creating a strong European Research Area (the so-called ERA priorities). Concrete measures for shaping the ERA are being implemented both on European as on national level.

In 1999, 30 European countries signed the Bologna Declaration in the Italian university town. They thus laid the foundation for a European Higher Education Area which by now covers 48 countries – ranging from Iceland to Kazakhstan – and the European Commission. The Council of Europe and seven other organisations act as advisory members. Throughout Europe, the Bologna Process has led to substantial changes in the national higher education systems. The Process follows a cooperative approach, i.e. the universities, students and social partners are involved in realising the objectives agreed upon by the ministers of higher education. It has been agreed to assess the progress made in implementing the European Higher Education Area in a joint conference every two or three years. The most recent conference took place in May 2015 in Yerevan. The final communiqué set down the stronger linkage between the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area.

Universities are a key element of the science system. They combine education and research and train the scientists of tomorrow, irrelevant of where these scientists will be working later on – at universities, in extramural research institutions or in companies conducting research. For this reason, we need to create optimal framework conditions and to advance the rapprochement between the European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area, e.g., as regards the support for young academics, mobility, or career planning and social security.