ERA-NETs and partnerships

Contact at the Estonian Research Council
Margit Suuroja

ERA-NETs, or ’European Research Area Networks’, are R&D funding agencies’ partnerships. Their main objective is to implement joint transnational calls for research project proposals. Also, they often co-ordinate work on wider research in their thematic areas, for example, by designing strategic research plans, databases, principles of sectoral research ethics, etc.

ERA-NETs have been operating in the European Union since the 6th EU Framework. In the Horizon 2020 program (2014-2020), the ERA-NET instrument is called ’ERA-NET Cofund’. This refers to co-financing by the European Commission, which is complementary to the contribution of the partners in the network, and can be used to organize each ERA-NET Cofund’s first joint competition. Apart from joint calls that are co-financed by the European Commission, ERA-NETs often organise additional competition calls without EC co-financing.

The Estonian Research Council has participated in ERA-NETs since their inception in 2002. Over the years, the most popular ERA-NET competitions calls among Estonian applicants have been organized by HERA, NORFACE, ERA.Net RUS Plus, TRANSCAN, BiodivERsA. From 2017 to 2022, ETAG can use EU structural fund means through Mobilitas Plus (in case of competitions joint calls without EC co-financing) in addition to the national budget funds (in case of calls co-financed by the EC).

For the researcher, participation in an ERA-NET call requires the establishment of an international consortium. A joint project with a duration of up to three years must normally include teams from at least three countries from among the particular call’s funding countries. As a rule, each national funder funds applicants in their own country, while the funders’ consortium as a whole is responsible for organizing the competition and assessing applications (each joint call has its own joint secretariat consisting of one or several institutions participating in the network). Reporting on projects that have received funding is also normally done at different levels: while the scientific report about the project as a whole is submitted at the level of the ERA-NET consortium, each national funder requests specific reports about the respective partner. As the requirements for each country and funding body may vary, applicants must carefully follow the terms and conditions of their funding body.


(1) European Commission, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, Performance of European Partnerships : Biennial Monitoring Report (BMR) 2022 on partnerships in Horizon Europe, Publications Office of the European Union, 2022,