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Reforming research and innovation systems
Commitment 33
Member States R&I Systems
Innovation Union commitment text

"Member States are invited to carry out self assessments based on the policy features identified in Annex 1 and identify key challenges and critical reforms as part of their National Reform Programmes. The Commission will support this process through exchanges of best practice, peer reviews and developing the evidence base. It will also apply them to its own research and innovation initiatives. Progress will be monitored in the framework of the integrated economic coordination ('European semester')."

FP7(1) Collaborative Links with European Countries per 1000 Researchers (FTE)(2)
Note: (1) Signed grant agreements as of 15 October, 2009. (2) Researchers refer to 2008 with the exceptions of CH: 2004; EL, FR: 2007. (3) TR: IT, DE, UK, FR, ES, EL (from left to right).
  • What is the problem?
  • What is our objective?
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The performance of national research and innovation systems is primarily determined by the capability of Member States to identify their specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in relation with the EU and wider context, to formulate the adequate policy mix (i.e. objectives and policies) for addressing those (building on strengths, alleviating weaknesses and taking up opportunities as appropriate) and to implement the corresponding regulations and support measures in an efficient, effective and accountable manner. Well-performing national systems in turn boost positive spillovers between EU Member States thereby improving the innovation performance of the EU as a whole. At the same time, national regulations and practices that reduce the openness of national innovation systems and their interaction with the systems of other Member States reduce the potential for drawing synergies from the development of the ERA and the single market of innovation.


Implementing reforms that address the key challenges identified by each Member State with the self-assessment tool would increase a country's innovation performance as well as the performance of the EU as a whole. Success would ultimately be achieved if the EU and its Member States attain their respective headline targets on R&D intensity (and, eventually, substantially improve their performance as measured by the forthcoming innovation headline indicator under development). Broader progress is being monitored in the Innovation Union Scoreboard constituted of 25 indicators covering 8 dimensions of innovation. Progress will be assessed and discussed annually at the Innovation Convention and key aspects reported in the Commission Annual Growth Survey. Major weaknesses in the identification of challenges or the formulation and implementation of adequate policy responses would be reflected in Country Specific Recommendations addressed to Member States in the context of the European Semester.

The definition of the self-assessment tool draws on the policy features most commonly identified in well performing research and innovation systems across the EU and beyond. This set of policy features will also contribute to informing national reforms by improving the usefulness of policy monitoring tools – such as ERAWATCH/TrendChart - and the effectiveness of mutual learning processes and exchanges of best practices – through e.g. country specific reviews. Basing (sometimes costly and unpopular) reforms on an agreed set of features can enhance their political and social acceptability.


By Member States: Member States are invited to use the self assessment tool in preparing their National Reform Programmes (NRPs). It is expected that the tool will support Member States in identifying their innovation priorities and developing policy responses in the NRPs. The tool will also be used to monitor the effectiveness of policies and where appropriate adapt them to new priorities. Country reviews and Commission support will be available to Member States to support this process.

In ERAC: ERAC members should discuss and share experience in applying the self assessment tool in their respective contexts. This should lead to further development of the tool, with supporting best practice and analysis. The features should help develop the methodological basis for:

- Country specific reviews: Member States are invited to volunteer for country reviews based on the self-assessment tool. On the basis of the experience gained through pilot exercises in 2011 (with Belgium and Estonia), ERAC and the Commission should have the capacity to conduct up to 6 country reviews per year, allowing all Member States to be covered over a 5 year period. Priority should be given to those Member States where R&I reforms are a priority in their NRPs or where the review is requested to support the development of a major new national strategy.

- Mutual learning exercises: ERAC regularly organises and supports mutual learning activities between Member States with a focus on policy features of common interest and where there is a need to identify and spread good practices.

By the Commission The Commission will develop a Research & Innovation Observatory to monitor and analyse national policies using in particular the self assessment tool. This will be based on existing tools - such as ERAWATCH/TrendChart - and will support the assessment and improvement of national research and innovation systems. The Commission will also use the self assessment tool in preparing future EU programmes and policies.

26 November 2010 Council endorsement (inviting Member States to use the IU self-assessment tool to improve the performance of their R&I systems)
Type: Preparatory activities
Indicative resources: RTD
May-December 2011 First (pilot) use of the self-assessment tool to peer review national R&I systems (Belgium, Estonia)
Type: Preparatory activities
Indicative resources: RTD
Final deliverable: ERAC peer review reports
Lead Directorate-General/Unit, Head of Unit

RTD/C.6, Pierre Vigier

Other Directorates-General/Units associated

ENTR/D.1, Katja Reppel

Key external partners

Member States, OECD

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