EU Puts Forward Ambitious Open Access Target

All publicly-funded research to be fully accessible by 2020.

The European Competitiveness Council has announced that all publicly-funded scientific papers should be available on fully open access platforms by 2020. The council, which is chaired by the Netherlands State secretary for Education, Culture and Science and brings together ministers of science, innovation, trade and industry from the EU member states, made the announcement after a 2 day meeting in Brussels.

The EU Commissioner for science and innovation, Carlos Moedas, called the announcement a ‘life-changing’ move, as reported by Martin Enserink in The Science Magazine.

The council members reached this decision unanimously, according to a press release by the Dutch government. Mr. Sander Dekker, the council president, stated that ‘Europe must be as attractive as possible for researchers and start-ups to locate here and for companies to invest. That calls for knowledge to be freely shared. The time for talking about open access is now past. With these agreements, we are going to achieve it in practice.’

The announcement has already been endorsed by some leading open access advocates. A statement released by the League of European Research Universities (LERU) states that ‘the council’s conclusions on open science will help to create a new culture for undertaking and disseminating the results of research in the 21st century. The conclusions are appropriate and targeted, and embrace a wide range of issues which are of importance to society in the new century.’

Unanimous support

Full implementation of this ambitious plan within a short period of time – less than 4 years – may be difficult, however, and skeptics are already airing their concerns. Nonetheless, Carlos Moedas has affirmed that the EU Commission is totally committed to its implementation. The unanimous support the plan received from council members should serve as testimony to the level of political commitment there is for open access.

Policy documents previously released by the EU have demanded that all research funded by the Horizon 2020 initiative should be made open access by publishing in open journals and placing them in freely accessible repositories. However, there are no proper verification mechanisms in place to know whether researchers are complying with these policies.

Enserink, M. (2016). In dramatic statement, European leaders call for ‘immediate’ open access to all scientific papers by 2020 Science DOI: 10.1126/science.aag0577

EU2016- All European scientific research to be freely accessible by 2020 (Press release)

LERU – The Dutch Presidency rises to the occasion: 15 Council conclusions that will set the way forward for R&I in the European Union (Press Release)

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