Policy Documents

Recommendations on European e-Infrastructures for Research and Education

The European e-Infrastructures are dedicated to accommodating a digital ecosystem that supports the success of European students, educators, and researchers through innovative solutions and tailored support. e-Infrastructures coordinate access at pan-European level and provide a coordinated response to the most demanding needs of European communities with the ultimate goal of boosting excellence within the European knowledge and science economy. The e-Infrastructures are designed to overcome geographical barriers and offer a streamlined, effective framework for interoperability and collaborative efforts leveraging the investments and effort of funding agencies at local, national and regional level. This framework empowers not only individual users and public entities but also IT service-providing companies to work together harmoniously, guided by robust standards that ensure compatibility, deliver trust and address security in the field of research and education.

As we navigate through an era marked by constant evolution and challenges, in this document the e-Infrastructure Reflection Group (e-IRG) highlights the significance of the European e-Infrastructures in this dynamic landscape.

e-IRG White Paper 2022

The objective of the e-IRG White Paper 2022 is to provide recommendations to the different stakeholders to strengthen the communication between e-Infrastructure providers at European level and their cooperation towards an enhanced and coordinated strategy setting. The need for better coordination across national and European levels has also been emphasised by the European Competitiveness Council on several of their Conclusions and Recommendations in the last years, calling for an increased cooperation between research infrastructures, e-Infrastructures and stakeholders, including through EOSC. With its White Paper 2022, e-IRG thus aims to bridge the identified gaps in terms of cooperation and coordination across the major European e-Infrastructure components, reflecting on the identified issues and providing concrete proposals. 

e-IRG White Paper 2021

With the e-IRG White Paper 2021 e-IRG is following up on its previous policy paper entitled “National Nodes – Getting organised; how far are we? – Implementing the e-Infrastructure Commons and the European Open Science Cloud.” The e-IRG White Paper 2021 responds both to the 2018 Council Conclusions on EOSC that called for the e-IRG expertise, and also to the 2020 Council Conclusions on the new ERA, both of which encouraged the EC and the Member States/Associated Countries “to increase the level of national and European coordination, in particular on research infrastructures and e-infrastructures”.

National Nodes – Getting organised; how far are we?

The e-IRG policy document “National Nodes – Getting organised; how far are we?” addresses the role of the national nodes – including their coordination with the thematic ones – in the implementation of the e-Infrastructure Commons and its instantiation as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The document “National Nodes, getting organized, how far are we?” thus covers both the situation within and between member states and should be considered as a snapshot at the time of publication. e-IRG is overlooking the whole e-Infrastructure spectrum, from networking and computing to data and other services (such as middleware, software and related tools/services), covering not only short-term but also longer-term aspects, advising both Member States and the European Commission. Thus, the document covers all e-Infrastructure components, with emphasis on governance, funding and access policies. It should be noted that e-IRG does not undertake any operative role or implementation mandates, e.g. within EOSC or EuroHPC and keeps an advisory role.

Summary e-Infrastructure Commons

The term e-Infrastructure Commons was initially presented in the e-IRG Roadmap 20121. According to Wikipedia “Commons” refers to the “resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth”. e-IRG uses the metaphor of the Commons for the e-Infrastructure resources and related services, which among others refer to networking, computing, storage, data and software, along with digital tools and collaboration opportunities.


Evaluation of e-Infrastructures and the development of related Key Performance Indicators

National Funders and the European Commission are funding the development and the operation of project-specific as well as general-purpose e-Infrastructures to provide services and facilities to research communities. In its White Paper 2013 e-IRG has introduced the e-Infrastructure Commons for knowledge, science and innovation. This e-Infrastructure Commons is an integrated living ecosystem of resources and services that should be open, user-friendly and accessible to European researchers and scientists, continuously adapting to the changing requirements of research and to the opportunities of new technologies. Moreover, the recent discussions on a European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) have re-framed and emphasized this ecosystem of services. It challenges the e- Infrastructure (service) providers in all their diversity, computing/storage/networking and publicly/commercially funded, to position themselves in this EOSC. The recent discussions on the EOSC have emphasised the need to assess and classify the value of the various e-Infrastructures, at pan-European as well as at the regional and national levels.

Following this vision of an integrated ecosystem, the various stakeholders are keen to understand how to assess the use, operation and innovation of e-Infrastructures in Europe and thus the efficiency of e.g. their investment strategies, based on common metrics and measures. As such, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are intended to provide a means for an operational, technical and socio-economic impact assessment of e-Infrastructures and the services they provide.

Guide to e-Infrastructure Requirements for European Research Infrastructures

This e-IRG support document focusses on providing information and recommendations for complying with the e-needs instructions included in the ESFRI QUESTIONNAIRE FOR SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS FOR ROADMAP 2018. Information about existing e-Infrastructures (mainly at European level), about open science and about data management is included.

This document contains three main parts. The first part addresses the e-needs instructions included in the ESFRI QUESTIONNAIRE FOR SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS FOR ROADMAP 2018 and the corresponding key minimal requirements to be met.The second part provides background information to be used when complying with the instructions and to follow up the recommendations and good practices presented in this document. We mainly describe the e-Infrastructures at European level, but are aware that e-Infrastructures at national or regional level are of equal importance. Efforts have been done to point to up-to-date information for e-Infrastructures at all levels. If needed, the e-IRG Secretariat and the national e-IRG Delegates can help you with contacting e-Infrastructures. This part also defines the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and the e-Infrastructure Commons and contains information on access to research infrastructures and data management. The third part discusses recommendations and best practices to be considered when complying with the e-needs instructions.

e-IRG Roadmap 2016

In the Roadmap 2016 e-IRG intends to define a clear route on how to evolve the European e- Infrastructure system further, and turn the vision of the e-Infrastructure Commons into reality for 2020. e-IRG is convinced that the implementation of the e-Infrastructure Commons is a large step towards European leadership in research infrastructures including e-Infrastructures, including the realisation of the European Open Science Cloud and the EU Data Infrastructure, which are part of the Digital Single Market Technologies and the Public Service Modernisation Package.

Long Tail of Data

This e-IRG policy document focuses on the Long Tail of scientific data, its sustained management and storage. Its characteristics are discussed, and it is shown that the distinction between the Long Tail and Big Data is somehow blurred. Long tail data management should sustain trust in data and repositories, with as keywords data quality, certification of repositories, appraisal, documentation, discoverability and interoperability. The design principles of data repositories are of crucial importance and will have long-term impact, so that it is of critical importance to adapt standards, access policies, governance rules, the integration of industry, etc. to both, Big Data as well as the Long Tail of Data. Policy actions should be adapted to the characteristics of Long Tail data and of their producers and users. More work is needed to understand how different building blocks can intervene to build an operational, relevant ecosystem. This has to be taken into account especially in the realization of the European Open Science Cloud.

e-IRG White Paper 2013

The e-IRG Roadmap 2012 outlines a need for a European “e-Infrastructure Commons” for knowledge, innovation and science in order to meet the challenges of implementing the EU’s 2020 Strategy. To implement such an e-Infrastructure Commons, a high degree of collaboration and standardisation is required. Furthermore, to provide users with leading edge services, a constant innovation at all levels is necessary. A certain degree of competition helps to ensure high quality of services and effective service provision. As a living ecosystem, an e-Infrastructure Commons must be flexible and able to change dynamically, efficiently, and in a future-proof manner. e-Infrastructures for research will only provide real value if they can provide services which are way ahead of what commercial providers can offer. In order to achieve all this, an ecosystem of different organisations is needed, both at the national and international levels, each with their own focus but also with effective coordination between them.

e-IRG Roadmap 2012

With the Roadmap 2012, e-IRG presents a vision of the future of e-Infrastructures in Europe . An advanced e-Infrastructure Commons will be necessary to implement the Innovation Union1 and the Digital Agenda2, two essential flagships of the EU’s 2020 Strategy3 . e-Infrastructure is used to refer to an environment to share research and educational resources (e .g . network, computers, storage, software, data) so that these resources can easily be accessed and used by academia, researchers and scientists as required . The value to the users of any infrastructure is not in the infrastructure itself, but in the “leverage” it provides on (new) competitive “core activi- ties” of the users, which make is difficult to create sustainable business models for the exploitation of infrastructures . Commons4 is used as resource management principle by which a resource is shared within a community .5 This Roadmap 2012 presents the principles of the political, techno- logical, and administrative framework for an easy and cost-effective shared use of distributed electronic resources across Europe: the e-Infrastructure Commons.

flag-eu e-IRGSP7 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Programme call HORIZON-INFRA-2021-DEV-01-05, Grant Agreement number 101057802.