The creation of the concept of the European Research Area (ERA), and the target of increasing total Research & Development expenditure within the European Union from 1.9% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to 3% by 2010 has stimulated widespread discussion of European fundamental research, in terms of its standing against the United States, its administration and its funding arrangements. This background paper surveys the science base in Europe, comparing it with the situation in the US and the North American Free Trade Area, and identifies a number of problems that need resolution. Rather than making recommendations for how the European science base should be funded in future, this paper aims to provide a basis for discussions on this issue. It presents key fact and figures to inform debate and describe the context within which policies will need to be formulated. This document is an updated version of a document published in January. There is no change to the essence of the document, but some figures have been updated and new information added, particularly in the area of highly cited authors and paper.