The ESFRI Forum discussed the strategic role of research infrastructures post 2020

The African Museum in Tervuren, Belgium, hosted the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) on 17-18 December 2019. The Forum focused not only on integrating research infrastructures into the broader European research and innovation strategies but also on gender equality and research pension fund.

“Now is the right time to use our collective experience assembled throughout the last twenty years and contribute to a newly developing concept of the European Research Area, ERA” said ESFRI Chair Jan Hrušák from J. Heyrovsky Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

European Research Area

The purpose of the European Research Area is to increase the competitiveness of European research institutions by bringing them together and encouraging a inclusive and more integrated way of work. It shall also contribute to easier and smoother mobility of scientists across countries.

Until now, the ERA concept has been built around priorities, but now there is a strong tendency to foster the cooperation between Member States based on partnerships and co-funding.

ESFRI´s role in this debate is circled around its policy and strategy role, in identifying key research infrastructure indispensable for European science. The important subject involves horizontal interconnections addressing grand societal challenges. Cooperation between research infrastructures and education including universities as well as training of research infrastructure managers and technical staff is high on the ESFRI agenda.

Gender equality

The gender issue is also part of European priorities in research. “Simply fixing the number of women is not sufficient. Important is how we evaluate and organize research work, how we combine carriers and parenting,” said Head of National Contact Centre for Gender & Science Marcela Linková from the Czech Academy of Sciences during her presentation.

Gender equality is also visible in the ESFRI´s final report on Monitoring which was approved by the Forum. Discussion on implantation of its result will continue in Zagreb in March 2020.

Pension savings

Slaven Misljencevic from the European Commission presented another tool that helps the mobility of scientists in Europe. It is a Pan-European Pension Fund for Researchers, RESAVER – Retirement Savings Vehicle containing three pillars. Its main advantages include transferability, a non-bureaucratic environment and attractive and transparent fees.

Delegates were also informed about the activities of the Joint Research Center, which provides Commission with scientific advice. At the same time, it also operates almost sixty research infrastructures that are planned to open to the external users.


The members of the ESFRI Forum were offered to visit the MYRRHA nuclear reactor facilities which will be a lead-bismuth cooled fast reactor intended to be fully operational in 2036, with a first phase (100 MeV accelerator) ready in 2026.

Vladka Coufalova

Photo: StR-ESFRI