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European Commission

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International Co-operation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Research

Reaching out to the world

Europe is an international scientific powerhouse with a long-standing tradition of scientific excellence. This excellence is reflected in the EUs ability to work in close collaboration with its international partners for the advancement of knowledge.

The EU has successfully set up an integrated European Research Area (ERA) to help galvanise European research through the careful co-ordination of efforts at regional, national and Union levels. The ERA is at the heart of EU research policy. Its main purpose is to ensure that Europe gets maximum value out of its research investment by avoiding the duplication of R&D activities and by linking up institutions engaged in complementary fields of investigation.

Reflecting the universality of scientific investigation, and the added value of global research efforts, the ERA seeks to reach out across the globe. The European Research Area must be opened up to the rest of the world, believes Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. This will enable EU countries, and third countries, to benefit from international co-operation (INCO) in science and technology, thereby paving the way for closer political and economic relations.

ERAs global dimension

The ERA aims to ensure that R&D capacity in the various Member States is shared effectively and efficiently, and that results are disseminated widely to maximise their impact. Just as the ERA is working to combine the EUs research capacities to create a union in which the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts, it also seeks to maximise the synergy with the rest of the world.

By opening the ERA up to the world, the Union seeks to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and scientific excellence between researchers in Europe and elsewhere. It also aims, in this way, to make Europe a more attractive destination for world-class talent and a major global scientific reference point.

International co-operation helps to push back the boundaries of science and to address global scientific challenges including food safety and quality that are often of common interest but too large or costly for one country to take on alone. It is also used to build capacity in and with developing countries to help them tackle their unique scientific needs, as well as to address common challenges together, such as the fight against poverty.

EU research worldwide

International co-operation is an important cross-cutting theme in all the priority areas of the EUs 17.5 billion Sixth Framework Programme for Research (FP6). That is why the EU has set aside more than 600 million to promote collaboration with INCO target countries that is, developing countries from Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific; the EUs Mediterranean partners, Western Balkan countries, Russia and the Newly Independent States. International co-operation projects are implemented through three major routes under FP6:

  • involving organisations from the rest of the world in EU-backed international research efforts to share knowledge and expertise, as well as to address global challenges collectively
  • dedicating specific international co-operation activities relevant to some group of target countries, on the basis of mutual interest and in support to the implementation of the EUs foreign and development aid policy
  • facilitating the international mobility of researchers into and out of Europe

Forging partnerships

Legal entities from almost anywhere in the world can take part in joint research efforts under the FP6s Thematic Priority on Food Quality and Safety. Substantial funding is available for participants from nearly 140 INCO target third countries, including the large majority of emerging, transition and developing economies.

In addition to INCO target countries, there is a particular focus on co-operation with countries that have bilateral science and technology co-operation agreements with the EU (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the United States, in 2004).