The European Commission on 17 July signed agreements with the first five stakeholders of the European Research Area. The scheme aims to boost research in the European Union (EU) by: coordinating member states, funders and research organizations; making pensions mobile; improving gender equality (see 'Action plans for equality'); and opening hiring practices across borders. EU research is currently fragmented, with little exchange of information and restricted mobility, said Màire Geoghegan-Quinn, European commissioner for research, in a statement.