'(It involves) Member States pooling research programmes in very concrete areas, with top-up funding from the European budget,' said European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik , '(and) marks another step in the direction of reinforcing the European Research Area. Borders are becoming less and less relevant for research cooperation, not only between researchers but also between those who fund research.'
The action brings together the EU's eight Baltic Sea states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden) and the Russian Federation to implement the first step of a joint Baltic Sea Research Programme focusing on introducing an ecosystem-based approach to management of the Baltic Sea, designed in a preceding ERA-NET action. BONUS+, which also takes the form of a joint call for proposals, is worth more than €27 million in total of which €18.7 million is allocated by the participating funding organisations and €9 million comes from FP7.
BONUS+ provides a mechanism for the EU to secure a better future for an inland sea which, since the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, is almost totally surrounded by EU Member States. The research done by BONUS+ should enhance the understanding of and predictive capacity about the Baltic Sea ecosystem’s response to past, current and future changes caused by both nature and human induced pressures. It will also highlight important linkages between environmental problems and the social and economic dynamics involved in responding to them. In turn, the research should support the formation of a basis for prudent management aimed at safeguarding the sustainable use of the ecosystem’s goods and services.
The ERA-NET scheme is designed to develop and strengthen the coordination of national and regional research programmes through two specific actions:
'ERA-NET actions' - providing a framework for actors implementing public research programmes to coordinate their activities e.g. by developing joint activities or by mutually supporting joint calls for trans-national proposals.
'ERA-NET Plus actions' - providing, in a limited number of cases with high European added value, additional EU financial support to facilitate joint calls for proposals between national and/or regional programmes.
Under the ERA-NET scheme, national and regional authorities identify research programmes they wish to coordinate or open up mutually. The participants in these actions are therefore typically ministries or regional authorities defining research programmes or research councils or other research funding agencies managing research programmes.