| International Co-operation
International co-operation is also an integral part of the thematic research priority ‘Global change and ecosystems’ in the Union’s Sixth Framework Programme. Because of the global or regional character of the environmental problems and their impact on sustainable development, better co-operation and sharing of information between nations is necessary to improve the collective knowledge-base and, ultimately, to better manage natural resources worldwide.
Sharing skills across borders
The sharing of skills and results within the EU is a valuable part of the European Research Area , but important research is also being carried out in other regions and countries around the globe. Through enhanced international co-operation, Europe is in a better position to both share its expertise in this complex field and to benefit from cutting-edge research elsewhere.
Broadly, international co-operation has two main objectives:
- To help European researchers, businesses and research organisations in the EU and in the countries associated with FP6 to access the knowledge and expertise existing elsewhere in the world
- To ensure Europe’s strong and coherent participation in the research initiatives conducted at the international level, thus pushing back the boundaries of knowledge and/or helping to resolve major global issues, such as environmental challenges and climate change
Partnerships outside the Union
In principle, legal entities from anywhere in the world can take part in EU research programmes – the aim being to build a more robust world research community. To this end, the European Commission has earmarked funds specifically for ‘third country’ participants in FP6 and negotiated special researcher visas to facilitate the movement of scientist, engineers and technologists from non-EU countries wishing to work in the Union. This also contributes to the objectives enshrined in the European Research Area.
Other third country participants may also be funded in those areas where the relevant part of the annual Work Programme – a guide to the work to take place, as issued by the European Commission – makes reference to this possibility, or if it is essential for carrying out the research activity.
All consortia are encouraged to consider co-operation – where a clear ‘added value’ is shown – with partners from countries outside the Union. Indeed, a partner-search service has been set up to facilitate new collaborations with researchers both within and potentially outside the EU. A special Researcher Mobility Portal has also been created to improve cross-border mobility and career opportunities in this field.
Other privileged working relationships and collaborations in environmental science have also been set in motion over the years through various EU programmes and relevant research themes (see Themes on this website). One example is the international co-operation agreement with the USA, where scientists from both sides of the Atlantic work together – as members of the same consortium – on research of common interest.
A number of topics are considered of particular interest in the context of co-operation between EU and US scientists in the ‘Global Change and Ecosystems’ sub-priority of FP6. These include investigating marine carbon sources and sinks, atmospheric pollutants, integrated research on deep-sea ecosystems, developing models for assessing and forecasting the impacts of climate in the open seas, combating desertification and natural disasters, and more.