In a statement released by the Competitiveness Council, a high-level body comprised of the Ministers of the 28 member states of the EU responsible for trade, innovation science and industry, the members agreed to “support a transition to immediate open access as the default by 2020, using the various models possible and in a cost-effective way, without embargoes or with as short as possible embargoes, and without financial and legal barriers, taking into account the diversity in research systems and disciplines.”
Implementation details remain to be addressed, but the statement makes it clear that each country is free to adopt implementation strategies that best suit their local needs, and does not express a specific preference for use of either journals or repositories as a compliance mechanism.
Additionally, the Council set out goals promoting a move towards making “open” the default for research data sharing, and outlined the need to realign incentives/rewards for the sharing of research outputs that support the public’s interest – rather than basing assessment solely on quantity of publications produced or the Impact Factor of those publications.
This is a big step forward towards Open Access – and towards the larger Open Agenda for research and education. It builds on the progress made over the past several years by the European Commission and its strong guidance on Open Access and Open Data in the FP7 research funding framework (Horizon 2020). While the Council’s recommendations are not legally binding, the fact that the 28 member states have established consensus on the overall policy direction is impressive, and signals a strong will to keep the momentum moving towards “open.”