This chapter presents the concept of the European Research Area (ERA) with particular attention to its evolution during the ten years’ life time of ERA policy. The Treaty of Lisbon mentions the European Research Area, which gives it a strong legal backing and raises this policy area within the mandate of the EU. In effect, ERA stands for the whole of the Union research policy and reflects changes occasioned by the adoption of new issues on the political agenda. One of important changes in the ERA agenda has been a shift from the structuration of European research efforts, ‘policy for science’, towards emphasising the utilisation of science for answering societal challenges, ‘science for policy’. While earlier EU research funding tools were all Community-based, accompanying the increased emphasis on policy coordination, the ERA tools became a mixture of Community-based and intergovernmental tools. The paper also analyses how the question of excellence gained more prominence on ERA agenda as a result of the debate on the establishment of an ERC (European Research Council).