Skip to main content
Research and innovation

Open access

EU support for open access, what it means, how its integrated into the funding programmes, advice for projects and working with EU countries. 

EU support for open access

Open access is the practice of providing online access to scientific information that is free of charge to the user and is reusable.

It is now widely recognised that making research results more accessible to all contributes to better and more efficient science, and to innovation in the public and private sectors

The Commission supports open access, specifically in its funding programmes. 

Open access to scientific information in research and innovation refers to 2 main categories

  • peer-reviewed scientific publications (primarily research articles published in academic journals)
  • scientific research data: data underlying publications and/or other data (such as curated but unpublished datasets or raw data)

Background note that provides more information on open access to scientific publications and research data at the EU and national level.

Open Research Europe

Open Research Europe is a scholarly publishing platform available to Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries. It comes at no cost to them, has a rigorous and open peer review process, and the open access model enables everyone to access the results.

Open access in Horizon 2020

Horizon 2020 was the Commission's main research and innovation funding programme up to the end of 2020.

The Commission has set a strong signal by making open access mandatory for all Horizon 2020 projects.

Peer-reviewed scientific publications

All projects receiving Horizon 2020 funding arerequiredto make sure that any peer-reviewed journal article they publish is openly accessible, free of charge.

Research data

The Commission is running a pilot on open access to research data in Horizon 2020: the Open Research Data (ORD) pilot.

This pilot takes into account the need to balance openness with the protection of scientific information, commercialisation and intellectual property rights (IPR), privacy concerns, and security, as well as questions of data management and preservation.

The pilot applies to research data underlying publications but beneficiaries can also voluntarily make other datasets open.

Participating projects are required to develop a data management plan, in which they will specify what data will be open.

In earlier work programmes, the ORD Pilot was limited to some specific areas of Horizon 2020. Starting with the 2017 work programme, however, the ORD pilot was extended to coverall thematic areas of Horizon 2020, realising the Commission's ambition of "open research data per default" (but allowing for opt-outs).

Open research data in Horizon 2020 factsheet

Practical information for Horizon 2020 projects

For details of how open access applies to beneficiaries in projects funded under Horizon 2020, please see the Guidelines on Open Access to Scientific Publications and Research Data and the guidelines on data management.

Working with EU countries

In 2012, the European Commission published a recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information encouraging all EU countries to put publicly-funded research results in the public domain in order to strengthen science and the knowledge-based economy.

The document also asked each country to designate a National Point of Reference (NPR) with the tasks of

  • coordinating the measures listed in the recommendation
  • acting as an interlocutor with the Commission
  • reporting on the follow-up.