Neelie Kroes: The Challenge of Open Access

At the launch of OpenAIRE at the University of Ghent on 2 December 2010, the EU Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes gave a noteworthy speech on the importance of Open Access for science and society. As the following excerpt shows, Kroes gave clear expression to her support for Open Access and for the European Open Access infrastructure being created within the framework of OpenAIRE:

The right to access freely the results of science does not only benefit citizens but also the public funding bodies. I believe public scrutiny of research results will improve how we allocate research funds. It will also increase the citizens' confidence in research spending. The long-term effect will be to help governments to make the investments we need to secure a sustainable and inclusive future. Open access can thus be understood as supporting the Open Government principle, helping to bring about better public services.

Open access is a legal and technical reality today. The question is no longer "if" we should have open access. The question is about "how" we should develop it further and promote it.

This "how" is indeed a challenge. It is an organisational and business challenge as the internet revolution disrupts the established models for scholarly dissemination. Open access is also a social challenge. As with all revolutions, the privileges of gatekeepers are revealed and put in doubt. Both knowledge producers and gatekeepers- the publishers and those doing the science - are forced to rethink their roles. All stakeholders will need to participate in this change. Also the funding bodies have an important role because they must ensure that deposit obligations are honoured.


The full text of the speech can be found here.