I remember reading a while ago that there was a proposal going around in the European Parliament. If I remember correctly, it said that all publicly funded research should be publicly accessible.

Did the proposal pass? Is it in effect? What are the exact requirements? (e.g. "green" vs "gold" open access)

3 Answers 3


The European commission has a webpage dedicated to this issue. In summary:

All projects receiving Horizon 2020 funding are required to make sure that any peer-reviewed journal article they publish is openly accessible, free of charge (article 29.2. Model Grant Agreement). [...]

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

In 2012, the European Commission published a Recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information encouraging all EU Member States 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 Member State to designate a National Point of Reference (NPR) with the task of 1) coordinating the measures listed in the Recommendation, 2) acting as an interlocutor with the Commission and 3) reporting on the follow-up. [...]

So in my understanding, everything funded directly by the EU has a mandatory open-access policy. For research funded by member States, this is only a recommendation.

See also the Open Science page on the Horizon 2020 website.

To clarify this answer: "Horizon 2020" is the name fo the portion of the EU budget dedicated to funding research from 2014 to 2020. I think one of the better-known bodies funded by Horizon 2020 is the European Research Council (ERC), but more generally all EU funds going to research go through Horizon 2020 (well, until 2020). The previous programs were called "Framework Programs" (FP, e.g. FP1, FP2, FP3... up to FP7 for the period 2007–2013).

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    The mandate only seems to require public accessibility, rather than open-access. (I make a distinction because open-access is a term being used by journals to mean something quite precise.) Also, the mandate (as quoted) only applies to H2020 projects, no requirement is stated for other types of project, moreover, it only applies to journal articles, no requirement is stated for other types of publication.
    – user2768
    Apr 26, 2018 at 9:28
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    @user2768 I'm not sure what the difference between "open access" and "openly accessible" is, apart from the first being a noun and the second being an adverb derived from the noun... In any case, I quoted directly the EC to make sure that I wasn't ambiguous about what I was talking about.
    – user9646
    Apr 26, 2018 at 10:23
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    To give an example, making a manuscript available online and then publishing with a journal that does not offer open-access (seemingly) satisfies the EU requirement. That is, there is no need to publish with an open-access journal.
    – user2768
    Apr 26, 2018 at 11:24
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    @user2768 Are you actually talking about so-called "gold" open-access? You can read the "annotated Model Grant Agreement" (warning: 750-pages PDF). It makes the distinction between "gold" and "green" and states that both are acceptable. In any case I am reluctant to use "open-access" to purely mean "gold open-access".
    – user9646
    Apr 26, 2018 at 11:35
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    @scaaahu You're looking at the wrong page. You're looking at Horizon 2020 as it affects the INEA. Actually, Horizon 2020 is for all areas of research, from 2014 to 2020. For example, the ERC's budget comes from Horizon 2020 (until 2020, and hopefully by then a new funding program will be into place).
    – user9646
    Apr 26, 2018 at 12:34

Gold open access is the actual open access, i.e. where you pay the publisher to make it open access.

Green open access is when you or your institution make available an "author's copy" or preprint (usually the camera ready version without the copyright statement).

Green open access satisfies the EU requirements. However some publishers, especially in the case of journals, have an embargo period before which the author's copy cannot be published online in your university's repository. I think this case might require the payment of open access fees if the research was funded by the EU.

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    Gold open access is the actual open access — No, if anything, diamond open access is "THE" open access, where neither authors nor readers have to pay to use the journal, and the minimal journal expenses are supported by donations and volunteer effort.
    – JeffE
    May 6, 2018 at 12:43

Yes, «all scientific articles in Europe must be freely accessible as of 2020» (emphasis added to the original). Not just those funded by the EU.

This was decided by the EU Council of May 2016 under the presidency of Netherlands. The Council holds legislative power together with the Parliament.

However, it's just a political decision for now. It's not a directive, let alone a regulation, so it's not directly enforced. The Commission is supposed to make legislative proposals to make it happen. This is the actual decision:

AGREES to further promote the mainstreaming of open access to scientific publications by continuing to support a transition to immediate open access as the default by 2020, using the various models possible and in a cost-effective way, without embargoes or with as short as possible embargoes, and without financial and legal barriers, taking into account the diversity in research systems and disciplines, and that open access to scientific publications should be achieved in full observance of the principle that no researcher should be prevented from publishing; INVITES the Commission, Member States and relevant stakeholders, including research funding organisations, to catalyse this transition; and STRESSES the importance of clarity in scientific publishing agreements.

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    Your answer is contradictory. Is it "must" or is it a "principle"? That's a big difference.
    – user9646
    May 6, 2018 at 8:57
  • @NajibIdrissi "must" is from a quotation. The contradiction is not my own doing. :)
    – Nemo
    May 6, 2018 at 9:01
  • The problem is that your quotation is truncated. If one reads the original press release, it's clear that "must" is used in the sense of a moral imperative, how things should actually be. Further down, one can read "Open access means that scientific publications on the results of research supported by public and public-private funds must be freely accessible to everyone. That is not yet the case."
    – user9646
    May 6, 2018 at 9:20
  • @NajibIdrissi but it's supposed to be by 2020. That depends on the Commission. In fact see this article from two days ago: «Smits will present his OA plans this Summer. In this plan for the European Commission he will have to indicate how the EU is going to meet the goal, set by the European ministers, of 100% OA in 2020» scienceguide.nl/2018/05/…
    – Nemo
    May 6, 2018 at 10:42

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