You suggest that universities are not doing enough to increase research mobility across Europe (Nature 502, 5; 2013). But at the European University Association (EUA) in Brussels, our evidence indicates that universities are in fact the main drivers towards a borderless European Research Area (ERA).

The EUA is one of the signatories of the European Commission's voluntary memoranda of understanding that seek to promote the ERA. Through contact and consultation with 85% of university respondents within our membership of some 850 institutions, we see that universities are making considerable efforts to advance ERA reforms.

For example, an EUA survey to be published in early 2014 shows that more than 80% of member universities already have institutional policies in place to promote gender equality — not 20%, as you quote and as cited in the commission's ERA Progress Report 2013. These reforms are advancing steadily, despite financial and administrative constraints.

The European Commission could damage future research initiatives if it shakes a stick at non-complying countries, given that many institutions in those nations are contributing substantially to ERA objectives. Europe's universities could instead do with a few more carrots to impel their efforts.