Forging new relationships, driving change
The New Independent States of the Former Soviet
Union (NIS) and other Central Eastern European Countries (CEECs)
have had to cope with a heritage that put science and research
on a different footing to their western neighbours. Weak on the
civilian application of results, their research sector has also
suffered severe cutbacks in government funding since the fall
of the Berlin Wall.
Since the early '90s, the EU has set up specific
programmes to help modify this situation: structured technical
and financial assistance began with PHARE and TACIS; a strategic
programme covering RTD co-operation was then formulated to enhance
these countries' research potential and restructure it to make
it more relevant to regional social, economic and environmental
INCO-Copernicus has developed under the European
Commission's Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes through hundreds
of research projects jointly undertaken by EU and local scientists.
Priority work areas include: cleaning up endangered ecosystems
that have suffered the ravages of pollution; transforming industrial
processes so they are better able to cope with local and international
requirements; and improving public health, both in terms of policy
and clinical innovation. Copernicus 1, which ran under the Fourth
Framework Programe (1994-1998), authorised more than 300 contracts
and helped to generate participation by nearly 250 NIS and CEEC
institutions. Its successor is building on this achievement, spending
e28 million on pre-competitive research and related actions between
1998 and 2002.
A special Copernicus 2 call, dedicated to the
West Balkan countries, which focused on the dramatic post-war
environmental and health problems of the area, was launched early
in 2001. A number of accompanying measures have also been implemented
covering training, conferences, and researcher mobility.
INCO is also the prime funder of INTAS, the
International Association for the Promotion of Co-operation with
the Scientists of the NIS. With a secretariat in Brussels, this
non-profit association supports joint research projects involving
scientists from the Member States and NIS partners.