The Lisbon Treaty strengthens the legal basis of the European Research Area (ERA) and defines it as a unified research area open to the world and based on the Internal Market. The ERA enables free circulation of researchers, scientific knowledge and technology.

The implementation of the European Research Area is also part of an Innovation Union Flagship Initiative, endorsed by the European Council. The European Union and its Member States are also called upon to strengthen their scientific and technological bases, their competitiveness and their capacity to address grand challenges collectively.