Three SERISS research infrastructures – the European Social Survey (ESS ERIC), the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC) and the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA AS) – have been recognised as ESFRI Landmarks by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Further, the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), another SERISS infrastructure, received the status of ESFRI Emerging Project. The announcement, made on Thursday 10th March, at the launch of the ESFRI’s Roadmap 2016 in Amsterdam, marks a significant achievement for these infrastructures.

ESFRI is a strategic instrument of the European Commission to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach. The ESFRI Roadmap, which has been updated three times since its inception in 2006, identifies new research infrastructures of pan-European interest, corresponding to the long-term needs of European research communities, covering all scientific areas. ESFRI Landmarks are research infrastructures that were implemented or started implementation under previous stages of the ESFRI Roadmap. They are established, excellent infrastructures and are given landmark status to help ensure they continue to be recognised by national governments.

Becoming ESFRI Landmarks is a significant achievement for the social sciences research infrastructures and recognises their vital role in helping academics, policy makers and civil society to tackle major societal challenges. By bringing together six of Europe’s leading data research infrastructures – Europeans Social Survey (ESS ERIC), Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC), Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA AS), Generations and Gender Programme (GGP), European Value Survey (EVS), WageIndicator – SERISS aims to further harmonise and strengthen social sciences research across Europe, ensuring that these infrastructures can continue to equip policy makers and academics with a solid base of the highest-quality evidence in the field of social data.

Dr Rory Fitzgerald, SERISS Coordinator and Director of ESS ERIC, says:

‘Whether it is an ageing society, climate change, fertility, migration or the future of democracy, the social sciences are critically important in illuminating those issues. By facilitating more effective harmonisation and innovation between social scientists, SERISS will help to ensure they can effectively play their part in debates on those issues’.

Dr Eric Harrison, Deputy Director of ESS ERIC, spoke at the ESFRI Roadmap 2016 launch as part of a discussion on the policy and socio-economic impact of social science research infrastructures. The social sciences research infrastructures involved in SERISS have an established track record of engaging with policy makers. A newly published leaflet ‘Impact of social sciences on grand societal challenges in Europe’ provides examples of recent engagement activities.