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Research and innovation
News article16 May 2024Directorate-General for Research and Innovation3 min read

Enhancing research accessibility and reuse: new study outlines strategic measures

Today, the European Commission published a study aimed at improving access to and reuse of research results, including publications and data for scientific purposes. This marks a significant step under the European Research Area Policy Agenda 2022-2024 on an EU copyright and data legislative and regulatory framework fit for research. 

The study has identified barriers and challenges to access and reuse of publicly funded research results, evaluated effects of the EU copyright framework on research, and identified relevant provisions for research in EU data and digital legislation. On this basis, it presents options for legislative and non-legislative measures to strengthen the free circulation of knowledge and thereby contribute to reinforce the European Research Area.

Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: 

“The European Union has been pioneering open science policies and actions for over a decade. At the heart of our ambitious open science policy lies a simple but powerful belief: Publicly funded research should be a public resource. In our ongoing efforts under the European Research Area and its Policy Agenda, we collaborate closely with Member States, Associated Countries and stakeholders to create an environment where knowledge flows freely to benefit the society”.

The most common barriers encountered by researchers include lack of subscriptions by their organisations, inability to get permissions from the copyright owner, and fear of copyright infringement. Research performing organisations report challenges emerging from copyright law, not only in accessing and re-using publicly funded research results, but also in making results available in open access. 

Special focus has been placed in investigating the situation in EU Member States that had introduced a Secondary Publication Right (SPR), including Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium and Austria. SPR grants authors the right to freely share their published articles under certain conditions, alongside the initial publication in scientific journals. The study found that most research performing organisations in these Member States consider SPR to have at least a moderate impact on their research activities, including the share of research publications in open access. However, the study indicates that many researchers remain unaware of this right and a majority of research performing organisations consider certain provisions of national SPR legislation to be limiting factors. For example, the need to respect embargo periods and the fact that SPR is applicable only to the author-accepted manuscript, not the version of record, for publication. 

The study presents options for legislative and non-legislative measures. It also outlines a diversity of stakeholders’ perspectives on the options proposed, indicating the need for further analysis and discussions. Measures explored encompass the introduction of an EU-wide Secondary Publication Right and provisions that could be included in such legislation, spanning from the type of scientific output to the embargo period to be allowed. Other proposed measures focus on strengthening open-ended and flexible research exceptions. This could be achieved by introducing a fully harmonised, mandatory, and general exemption for scientific research, by clarifying lawful forms of access, and by removing excessive barriers posed by technological protection measures. Lastly, options explored also include giving guidance on current text and data mining provisions, to raise awareness and facilitate implementation by the research community. 

Finally, the study provides an analysis of provisions relevant to researchers and research organisations in EU data and digital legislation, examine the interplay against different legislative instruments, and present the main opportunities and challenges. The findings identify a growing entanglement of provisions relating to research activities and put forward recommendations. 


The study was commissioned as part of Action 2 of the ERA Policy Agenda 2022-2024. It has been carried out by a consortium led by PPMI Group, and including as partners the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam, the Centre for IT & IP Law at KU Leuven, and the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies.

It also responds to the Council Conclusions of May 2023 on ‘High-quality, transparent, open, trustworthy and equitable scholarly publishing’, which encouraged the Commission to examine and propose measures at EU level.


More information 

Study: Improving access to and reuse of research results, publications and data for scientific purposes

Executive Summary 

European Research Area Platform

EU open science policy


Press contact:

EC Spokesperson for Research, Science and Innovation


Publication date
16 May 2024
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation