Access to knowledge, information, and data is essential in higher education and research; and more generally, for sustained progress in society. Improved access is the basis for the transfer of knowledge (teaching), knowledge generation (research), and knowledge valorisation (civil society). The significant economic, social and educational benefits of making research outputs available without financial, legal and technical barriers to access have been widely recognized in recent years, not only within the research community, but also by policy makers and the society in general. Open access strengthens economies through developing a strong and independent national science base. There is growing evidence that countries also benefit because Open access increases the impact of the research supported by public funding, enabling innovation and societal uptake, and therefore maximises the return on investment on science. The European Commission’s objective is to optimise the impact of publicly-funded scientific research, both at European level (FP7, Horizon 2020) and at Member State level. Results of publicly-funded research should be disseminated more broadly and faster, for the benefit of researchers, innovative industry and citizens. Open access can also boost the visibility of European research, and in particular offer small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to the latest research for utilisation. The European Commission supports Open Access as the standard way of disseminating publicly funded research in the European Union and includes open circulation of knowledge as one of the five priorities of [the European Research Area (COM(2012) 392 final)](http://ec.europa.eu/euraxess/pdf/research_policies/era-communication_en…), as well as one of the constituent parts of [Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI)](https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/responsibl…), strongly emphasized in Horizon 2020. The European Commission’s strategy is to develop and implement open access to research results from projects funded by the EU Research Framework Programmes, namely FP7 and Horizon2020. In December 2007 the ERC (European Research Council) published its first [Open Access Guidelines](https://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document/file/erc_scc_guideli…), revised in October 2013 and December 2014 (read the[ current version here](https://erc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document/file/ERC_Open_Access…)). In August 2008, the European Commission launched the [Open Access Pilot in FP7.](http://ec.europa.eu/research/swafs/index.cfm?pg=policy&lib=pilot) In the summer of 2012 the European Commission recommended that Member States develop national policies that will provide Open Access to publicly funded research and that research funders and research performing organizations accordingly develop their own policies, coordinated at the national and European level ([Commission Recommendation on access and preservation of scientific information - C(2012) 4890 final](http://ec.europa.eu/research/science-society/document_library/pdf_06/re…)). Furthermore, Open Access is required (mandatory) for all peer-reviewed publications resulting from Horizon 2020 funding. This decision follows the pilot action on Open Access, which was implemented in FP7 for part of the funding period. Horizon 2020 also includes a pilot action on Open Access to research data. Open Access to research data is a topic that is receiving increased attention recently and for which policies are still at a relatively early stage. References: [Open Access Overview](https://www.openaire.eu/oa-overview "Open Access Overview"). [Open Access Policies Mandates](https://www.openaire.eu/oa-policies-mandates "Open Access Policies Mandates"). [Medoanet Guidelines](http://medoanet.eu/sites/www.medoanet.eu/files/documents/MED2013_GUIDEL… "Medoanet Guidelines").