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More clarity needed on open access, say ministers

National research ministers have called on the European Commission to clarify its policies for open access to scientific information under Horizon 2020.

Ministers made the call during a meeting of the Competitiveness Council on 18 February. They welcomed the proposal to make open access publishing a general principle for research carried out Horizon 2020, but said that better guidance is needed on open access and related issues, such as e-infrastructures for disseminating scientific information.

In a statement published following the meeting, the Competitiveness Council said it is vital that the provisions for open access take into account intellectual property, security and data protection issues. This reflects concerns highlighted by Business Europe, a lobby group for businesses, in a letter to the Council in advance of the meeting.

Ministers also discussed how research and innovation could be better supported to ensure it contributes to the Europe 2020 strategy for growth. This should include the use of tax credits to strengthen research spending, and the promotion of innovation clusters and technology start-ups to increase research commercialisation.

The Council adopted conclusions on the relationship between the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA), which approved ongoing efforts to integrate the work of the two organisations in space policy, including the cost benefit analysis of possible options being conducted by the Commission

The Competitiveness Council meeting continues today, with ministers scheduled to discuss the EU’s Reach regulation for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals.

Representatives from the member states will also sign an international agreement establishing the unitary patent court for the European patent.