Máire Geoghegan Quinn, the EU’s commissioner for research and innovation, wants to know why. With this in mind, she has launched some research of her own with a view to enticing people to work closer to home.
The potential is there for 3.7 million jobs and an €800bn boost to the EU’s GDP.
“This is the kind of growth and jobs we desperately need,” Ms Geoghegan Quinn said, adding that Europe faced an innovation emergency.
While many of the borders in the EU have been broken down, making it easier for tourists and workers to travel and find jobs in any of the 27 states, she said research and innovation are still locked behind national boundaries.
“It is unacceptable that it is often more attractive and easier for our top scientists to cross the Atlantic than to move across the EU.
“We want those involved in the research community to tell us what they need, so we can work to tear down what amounts to serious barriers to growth and jobs.”
The commissioner wants to create a borderless European research area by 2014 when the EU’s next research budget will come on stream. It should mean it is easier not just for researchers to move around the EU but also to allow ideas to flow.
“We should have free circulation of researchers, students, scientists and university teaching staff. It should make it easier for a good researcher in a small university or research centre in one of Europe’s less developed regions to collaborate and co-operate with others across Europe on high-level research.”
The research area would play a major role in the EU’s future research strategy, for which the Commission hopes to have €80bn available for the years 2014 to 2020 — together with increased investment by member states and business amounting to 3% of the region’s GDP by 2020.