You are here: About the OfficePolicy and strategyRDI policyRDI policy coordinationOpen Access
Open Access
02 June 2018
Modified: 02 June 2018
Reading time: 8 minute(s)
Open access to the scientific publications of publicly funded research projects can pave the way to make research outputs public domain and wider utilisation.

Today, all conditions are met for open access: with the emergence of digital technologies and the globalisation of researcher communities, access to information is theoretically easier than ever before. For now, however, there is no common national position on this. According to the latest study of the European Commission, so far only five member states (including Hungary) have supported the progressive “gold” open access model which provides free access for everyone to scientific publications currently available only to subscribers. Gold open access would mean the complete abolition of the traditional subscription system and would require the authors of scientific publications to cover the publishing costs (with institutional support). As a more conservative position, “green” open access would keep the traditional subscription-based system of scientific journals and would leave it to the authors to deposit their publications in a freely accessible repository. In general, this scheme permits a work to go open access only a few months after its first publication in a subscription-based journal.  

The Commission is clear that open access can be achieved in several ways. Recognising the different situation, needs and possibilities of the different member states and stakeholders, the Commission considers both the green and the gold access viable. 

Open access in the EU’s research and innovation framework programme 

The Commission launched the Open Access Pilot in 2008 during the 7th Framework Programme. This is supported by the Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe (OpenAIRE) project which was launched in collaboration of 38 partner institutions from 27 European countries. Participating researchers undertook to deposit their publications in open access institutional repositories in the thematic chapters of the project (Health, Energy, Information and Communication Technologies, Environment, Socio-Economic Sciences and the Humanities, Research Infrastructures, Science in Society). OpenAIRE ensures the basic conditions for this, undertaking to deploy an e-infrastructure for European repository networks and the associated customer support (help desk).

In the currently running Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, open access is already applied as a general principle: all funded projects have to ensure open access to their publications free of charge. The beneficiaries are required to deposit their printed publication or the final manuscript in an open access repository as follows: 

  • open access publication: gold open access must be granted on publication
  • self-archiving: green open access must be granted within six months after publication.

The OpenAIRE database shows that 65.2% of the publications of projects funded under the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme are openly accessible and 65,4% of the projects participating in the pilot make their data accessible and usable.

The Commission launched a new initiative in the Horizon 2020 Framework Program, the  Open Research Data (ORD) pilot . In addition to the demand for open access publication, the initiative also considers issues related to the protection of scientific information, commercialisation and intellectual property rights. The pilot primarily focuses on data supporting research results, but the beneficiaries may also make other sets of data openly accessible. Projects need to establish a so-called Data Management Plan as well. The ORD pilot covers all thematic areas of Horizon 2020.

Further EU initiatives

In 2012, the European Commission published a “Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information” encouraging all EU Member States to put publicly-funded research results in the public domain in order to strengthen science and the knowledge-based economy. Among other things, the document calls on Member States to

  • disseminate scientific publications resulting from publicly funded research;
  • reinforce the preservation of scientific information;
  • further develop related e-infrastructures;
  • ensure synergies among national e-infrastructures at European and global level;
  • participate in multi-stakeholder dialogues at national, European and/or international level on how to foster open access to and preservation of scientific information;
  • define clear policies for open access, including concrete objectives and indicators, implementation and financial plans;
  • ensure that funding institutions and beneficiaries receiving public funding implement these policies.

The recommendation calls on member states to designate National Points of Reference (NPR) who will coordinate the actions specified in the document in the given country, communicate with the Commission and report on progress every two years.

The National Points of Reference for Hungary: Gábor Makara

Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science

As the main result of the Amsterdam conference on ‘Open Science – From Vision to Action’ hosted by the Netherlands’ EU presidency on 4 and 5 April 2016, the document titled Amsterdam Call for Action on Open Science calls for the following actions:


  • full open access for all scientific publications
  • a fundamentally new approach towards optimal reuse of research data;
  • new assessment, reward and evaluation systems;
  • alignment of policies and exchange of best practices.

 To this end, it is absolutely necessary to:

  • remove barriers to open science;
  • develop research infrastructures;
  • foster and create incentives for open science;
  • mainstream and further promote open science policies;
  • stimulate and embed open science in science and society.

In its Council Conclusions on the Transition towards an Open Science System (4 May 2016), the Netherlands’ EU presidency invited the Working Group on Open Science and Innovation of the European Research Area Committee (ERAC) to assess the proposed actions on the Call for Action on feasibility, effectiveness, and prioritisation, and to report on this. It also called on the Commission to inform Member States on the operation of the Open Science Policy Platform at least twice a year. It also called on the Commission to further develop the European Open Science Agenda. It agreed that immediate open access should become the default procedure by 2020.

Open Science Policy Platform

The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission established in an expert group in 2016 which gives advices in relation to the development and implementation of open science policies along the actions defined in the European Open Science Agenda.

The group discusses the potential ways of promoting open access and related business models, and the issues relating to European Cloud Initiative. 

European Open Science Cloud, EOSC

Europe is the largest producer of scientific data in the world, however, due to the fragmented and insufficient infrastructure it is unable to take full advantage of the great potential of big data.

The Commission’s strategic initiative intends to create a reliable, open environment for storing, sharing and reusing scientific results: the  European Open Science Cloud. The European Open Science Cloud aims to give Europe a global lead in scientific data infrastructures and to ensure full exploitation of the benefits of data-driven science. Practically, it will offer 1.7 million European researchers and 70 million professionals in science and technology a virtual environment with free at the point of use and open services for storage, management, analysis and re-use of research data, across borders and scientific disciplines. As a first step, its development will be driven by the scientific community, who are the most advanced users and the largest producers of science in the world. The European Open Science Cloud will be also open for education and training purposes in higher education and, over time, to government and business users as the technologies developed will be promoted for wider application.

The European Open Science Cloud will start by federating existing scientific data infrastructures, today scattered across disciplines and Member States. It will enable the creation of new market opportunities and new solutions in key areas such as health, environment, or transport.

In its first report published on 11 October 2016, the High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud (HLEG EOSC) called for immediate action to facilitate clear rules on access and services based on existing capacities and experience. At the same time, the conclusions of the report in several respects go beyond the Open Science policy, interpreting it more broadly: it recommends that the EOSC should be framed as the EU contribution to an Internet of FAIR Data and Services underpinned with open protocols. This requires a jointly launched and supported initiative. According to the report at least half a million ‘core data scientists’ are needed for a really effective utilisation of open research data. The report also considers it necessary to change the currently used funding schemes for scientific data management. According to the expert group’s calculations, on average about 5% of research expenditure should be spent on properly managing and stewarding data.

Updated: 02 June 2018
Was this page helpful?