EU Commissioner Moedas and Secretary of State Dekker call on scientific publishers to adapt their business models to new realities


Brussels, 12 October 2015

Speaking at a bilateral meeting with Sander Dekker, the Dutch Secretary of State for Education, Culture and Science, Commissioner Moedas reiterated the strong commitment of the European Commission to open access to scientific peer reviewed publications, which is a cornerstone of one of his top priorities – the policy on Open Science.

"Europe generates more scientific output than any other region in the world. In parallel, there is a revolution happening in the way science works. Every part of the scientific method is nowadays becoming an open, collaborative and participative process. Can publishers afford to stay out of that trend? I believe that much efforts need to be done by the main publishers to adjust their business models to the realities of the 21st century."said Commissioner Moedas. He also pointed out that "digital technologies inevitably have the same ground-breaking impact on scientific publishing as they have already had on the media, music, film and telecommunication industries".

On the eve of the Dutch Presidency of the EU, Secretary of State Dekker “I support the initiative of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) to join forces towards Open Access in research. Dutch universities already show the importance of organising themselves in the negotiations with publishers. That way they can successfully stand their ground towards publishers. In addition, Dutch universities are even prepared to not sign new contracts, if needed. The fact that all LERU members now let go of the old subscription-based models with big deals and clearly choose for models based on Open Access, perfectly fits with the Dutch Open Science policy. In this policy, results of publicly funded research must be available free of charge for everyone. This will be a priority during the Dutch Presidency of the EU in the first semester of 2016.”

Sharing the same vision, Commissioner Moedas and Secretary of State Dekker recognized that scientific publishers need to make their business model of open access publishing fairer and fully transparent. Only a fair business model supports European research.

The Commissioner and the Secretary of State supported therefore stakeholder organisations such the League of European Research Universities (LERU) in their plea for fully transparent business models. They jointly called on the publishing industry to follow the example of new publishers that have adopted innovative business models for open access, and of those established publishers who have shown commitment to open access and developed new business models.

In Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, all costs for open access are eligible for reimbursement during the duration of the project. However, the Commissioner warned that the Commission will adapt this policy if it finds that publishers are charging excessive article processing charges for opening access to articles.

The Commission is setting up an Open Science Policy Platform to further investigate the transition to alternative business models, and plans to organise in 2016 a dedicated roundtable with all stakeholders involved in scientific open access publishing.


Systemic changes are taking place in the way the science and research system functions. These changes – referred to as 'open science' - entail a shift towards an open, collaborative and networked way of doing research. Open access to scientific peer reviewed publications is a key part of this phenomenon.

Two dominant business models currently exist for open access: immediate open access on the website of the publisher gold open access) or delayed open access through a repository (green open access).

Within gold open access, articles can be published in journals where all contributions are open access (fully gold) or in journals where only some of the contributions are openly accessible, while the rest can only be accessed through a traditional subscription system (so called ‘hybrid journals’). On the latter, there is the concern that some publishers ‘double-dip’, that is receive one payment to make an article open access, and another for the same article in the form of a subscription to the whole journal.

Open access to publications is a requirement for all projects funded under Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding programme. Costs related to open access publishing are fully eligible as part of the grant. Furthermore, the EU-funded project OpenAIRE is running a pilot to reimburse costs for open access publishing after the end of the grant.

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