More mobility for researchers in Europe

November 12, 2004

If a scientist moves to another country in the course of an ongoing project, there is an interest for him or her to transfer the funds to the new institution in that country. To make this option available to researchers throughout Europe, the presidents and heads of the European funding organisations, gathered under the name EUROHORCs (European Union Research Organisation's Heads of Research Councils), signed an agreement during their last meeting held in Lisbon on 22 October 2004. The aim is to facilitate the mobility of researchers within the European Research Area, to preserve existing research opportunities, and to bridge the period until an application for funds in the new country has been successful.

Initially, the letter of intent was signed by the representatives of twelve organisations from ten countries. Another six to eight signatures will follow before the end of the year. This will constitute the Europe-wide implementation of a principle that has already been the subject of several bilateral agreements initiated by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) over the last couple of years with organisations such as the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and, trilaterally, with the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). The agreement stipulates the readiness for a transfer of grants if a scientist/researcher moves to a new position in one of the other participating countries. This principle has become known as "money follows researcher".

By signing the agreement, all organisations affirm that they support the principle and its implementation within their individual structures. Each organisation may decide when and to what extent a transfer of funding is appropriate. Based on experiences with previous agreements, the DFG has developed the following basic principles: The precondition for a transfer of resources is an existing grant. This principle applies above all to the Individual Grants Scheme, but also to coordinated programmes - as long as it is compatible in each individual case with the overall project. If possible, the project should have at least another six months to run. If the project has not yet begun, the transfer can be limited to one year. The possibility of transferring equipment and larger investments needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

It is important to note that while the EUROHORCs agreement is signed by all the participating organisations on a multilateral basis, each individual case involves only the organisation which is responsible for the grant. From the perspective of the researcher, the transfer agreed to by that organisation facilitates the change to the university or institution within the new system.
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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

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