From Science Business:
Robert-Jan Smits, one of Europe’s most powerful figures in research, has been appointed as a special envoy on open science at the European Commission, to help push efforts to make all publicly funded research in Europe freely available by 2020.
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker proposed Smits, the outgoing director-general of research and innovation, for the role on Wednesday.
“I will be the ice-breaker for open access publications,” Smits said in an interview to mark his last day in his current post, which he has held for eight years.
Clutching a letter sent in the morning by Juncker informing him of his new position, Smits explained how he would be working alongside member states and research funders to change the world of academic publishing. His official title will be senior advisor on open access within the European Political Strategy Centre, the Commission’s in-house think tank.
His task will be to help accelerate momentum towards making publicly funded scientific papers and data freely available by 2020 – a target set by the Dutch government, and agreed upon by the other 27 member states, back in 2016.
Right now, compliance with the EU open access demand is 67 per cent across all Horizon 2020 projects, Smits said.
“But it needs to go to 100 per cent; this is serious stuff,” he said. “We want all funders to be like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. Europeans have to lead on open access too.” The organisations he mentions have begun making grants contingent on open access, as well as possibly to the underlying data.
“Researchers should not see the act of going open access as playing the good Boy Scout. It’s more than that,” Smits said.