Open Access in Europe

As the International Week of OA approaches, MyScienceWork takes you on a unique journey to discover OA policies all over the world. Next stop: European Union !

(Want to learn more about Open Access in US & Latin America?)

Horizon 2020 : The biggest EU Research and Innovation project

“Knowledge is the currency of the new economy.” This sentence marks the beginning of a document released by the European Commission in 2012, articulating the role of OA in the creation of a European “single market of knowledge, research and innovation.” In another communication (2,3),from the same year, the European Commission recommended that each EU member state define its own politics of OA in order to achieve 60% of OA in 2016 and 100% in 2020, with embargo periods restricted to 6 months for science and technology and 12 months for social sciences and humanities.

The main initiative in the EU promoting OA is called Horizon 2020, a 80 billion euro investment in research and innovation available over 7 years (2014-2020) . It requires that a research publication be OA as a condition for funding, with an embargo period of 6 months. Horizon 2020 considers both Gold and Green OA as valid models to achieve OA. Even in the case of Gold OA, the European program strongly encourages the deposit on public repositories, such as Zenodo*, to ensure a long-term preservation of the articles.

Behind these decisions is a clear goal: to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and innovation from laboratories to the industry. This is the key to foster innovation in the industry, boost the economy, generate growth, and secure Europe’s competitiveness on global markets.

OA policies in the member states : Gold vs Green

The EU member states have a certain freedom to define their own OA policies. In the UK, Germany,  or the Netherlands where academic publishing is an important industry (Elsevier, Springer, Nature…), the governments are negotiating with publishers to move towards immediate open access after publication. These countries of Northern Europe have thus allocated additional budget to sustain the transition towards a Gold OA model.

By contrast, the South of Europe (Italy, Spain) favors Green OA models and do not allocate extra research funds or offer variations in the embargo period durations.

In France, many funding agencies such as ANR (National Agency for Research) encourage OA, but nothing is mandatory yet. The majority of French research institutes and universities signed a convention in 2013 promoting the use of open archives, such as the HAL platform (Hyper Articles en Ligne) developed by the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research). Moreover, by article 30 of the law entitled “For a numeric republic,” researchers can negotiate their publication’s right to OA with publishers as soon as at least 50% of their work is financed by public funds.

Towards Open Science in EU ?

Horizon 2020 is a milestone in the road to OA in the EU. It could also be seen as the start of a wider conversation about Open Science, and its evolution in the next decade which will raise new challenges for its effective development in the member states. It will also raise questions about the impact of Open Science on public policy and scientific diplomacy, inside and outside the frontiers of the EU.

* Zenodo is a research data repository, freely accessible online, created by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe)

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