Mobility is an important component for personal and career development — and is particularly useful in Europe. The Marie Curie Fellowships, set up by the European Commission, fund PhD and postdoc researchers to work in a country other than their home nation. To assist with this process, the independent Marie Curie Fellows Association (MCFA) came into existence ten years ago and is pushing for policies that would ease the movement of researchers from one country to another.

To make Europe a more attractive workplace for increasingly mobile researchers, the association needs input and support from mobile researchers, principal investigators, policy-makers, universities and industry. Part of its remit is to bring together these disparate parties and establish stronger contacts between them.

The MCFA provides feedback to European policy-makers through newsletters, by taking part in scientific, science-policy and science-related conferences and by publishing policy statements. For example, the MCFA strongly supported the 'European charter for researchers' and the code of conduct for their recruitment, two documents that were formally adopted by the commission as a recommendation in March 2005.

The charter aims to ensure that the relationship between researchers, employers and funding organizations contributes to the generation, transfer and sharing of knowledge, and to the career development of researchers. The code of conduct aims to make selection procedures fairer and more transparent and proposes judging merit using factors apart from publication output, such as teaching, supervision, teamwork, knowledge transfer, management and public awareness activities.

The experience gained by Marie Curie fellows during their stints in different countries will help them to play an important role in building the European Research Area, an initiative to provide a European 'common market' for research and innovation. But fellows face challenges — their mobility can prove disruptive to their families, for example. To ease such difficulties and to help the fellows realize their potential within Europe, the MCFA is doing its utmost to ensure that mobile researchers will be able to enjoy the best possible working conditions.