According to the European Commission, "human resources are, to a large extent, the key of research efforts, excellence and performances. The number of researchers and their mobility are two important aspects of this issue."
The European Commission's focus has mostly been on the need to increase Europe's competitiveness and the creation of a European Research Area that could establish itself as a global player in scientific research.
Germany echoes those sentiments in the context of its own position within the global marketplace: "International cooperation in research and academia means an increase in the visibility and desirability of Germany as a location for world-class research."
Scientists generally regard mobility in a positive light and accept the likelihood that it will be a part of their career trajectory. The exchange of scientific ideas, sharing knowledge and benefiting from other approaches to "doing science" were amongst the most cited reasons why scientists value mobility in the context of their work. "Soft skills" gained through working in a different cultural context include improved language skills, increased ability to work independently and a greater sense of confidence in one's own abilities, whether scientific or personal. Here the scientists seem to confirm the policy rationale of the European Commission, which promotes mobility because it is a "well-known and effective way of training skilled workers and disseminating knowledge" and "permits the creation and operation of multi-national teams and networks of researchers, which enhance Europe's competitiveness and prospective exploitation of results."
However, there is some evidence to suggest that mobility is not always viewed so positively by the individuals involved. While the scientific benefits are generally agreed upon, the personal cost of mobility can be high. Mobile early career scientists often work extremely long hours and, more often than not, live their lives more or less within the research institute rather than integrating into the wider host society. The science community offers a sort of safety net, which supports foreign scientists but which also, indirectly at least, discourages integration outside the institute and encourages long working hours. From a personal point of view, therefore, mobility in the scientific field can be extremely challenging.