European Research Area


The European Research Area (ERA) was launched in 2000, to address the fragmentation of the EU’s research and innovation system and to foster the free movement of researchers, scientific knowledge and innovation. 


Since 2012, gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research have been one of the priorities of the ERA with the three focus areas: achieving gender balance in decision-making, gender balance in research teams and the gender dimension in research and innovation (COM/2012/0392 final). In 2015, the Member States adopted Council Conclusions on Advancing Gender Equality in the ERA (14846/15).


After two decades, a new ERA was launched in 2020 with a renewed set of priorities. The first ERA Policy Agenda 2022-2024 was approved by the Council as an Annex to the Council Conclusions on the Future Governance of the ERA on 26 November 2021 (14308/21).


Inclusive gender equality is addressed in order to strengthen the European R&I potential, through the development of inclusive gender equality plans; institutional change is recommended as the key policy framework (COM(2020) 628 final). A new ERA Action 5 Promote gender equality and foster inclusiveness, taking note of the Ljubljana declaration, defines the new priority outcomes (14308/21). 


The six areas defined by the Ljubljana Declaration are:

  • Ensure fair, open, inclusive and gender equal career paths in research, and consider intersectional perspectives on gender inequalities;
  • Facilitate mutual learning opportunities through form-follows-function robust governance;
  • Employ existing and newly developed tools, such as Gender Equality Plans, to facilitate systemic institutional change and remove institutional barriers;
  • Address and counteract gender-based violence; 
  • Support active monitoring and evaluation to ensure continuous improvement; and
  • Leverage synergies to enhance gender equality achievements within the European Research Area, but also within complementary fields such as the European Higher Education Area, Cohesion policy funds, innovation ecosystems, as well as in international cooperation


ERA Forum

The Council Conclusions on the future governance of the ERA of 26 November 2021 (14308/21) recognise the role of the ERA Forum as the body responsible for enhancing coordination towards the effective implementation of the ERA Policy Agenda, supporting the Commission and the Member States in the delivery of the ERA Actions (for more information see here).

In March 2023 a sub-bgroup “Inclusive Gender Equality in the ERA” to the Expert Group ERA Forum was set up to support the implementation of ERA Action 5.


Sister projects

European Commission supports gender equality in research and innovation inter alia through the international projects funded by its framework programs for research and innovation (Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe).