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EU international research cooperation helps reach solutions to global challenges

Brussels, 13 October 2016

European Union–led research partnerships have played a key role in mobilising and aligning international efforts and financing to tackle global challenges, such as combatting infectious diseases, ensuring food security, and fighting climate change. This is the main conclusion of the European Commission's second progress report published today on the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation.

Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "No single country or region can face global challenges alone. That's why our research and innovation needs to be Open to the World. This report clearly shows that we have come a long way in engaging with our global partners, which enables us to maintain our excellence in science and technology, create new business opportunities and have a leading role in global developments."

For example the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) brings together funding organisations to ensure an effective research response to major outbreaks of infectious diseases. Most recently, this global research partnership was mobilised against the Zika outbreak in 2015 (see accompanying factsheet for more details)

Today's progress report highlights European efforts to improve the policy and framework conditions for worldwide cooperation in research and innovation. One example is the EU-China Co-Funding Mechanism (CFM) agreed in 2015, which has been a game changer in EU-China cooperation. With the CFM, China has committed to invest up to €30 million per year to support the participation of Chinese researchers in Horizon 2020, the EU's research funding programme that runs between 2014 and 2020.

The report also shows how the experience gained in policies to build the European Research Area is used to shape interactions in an international context. It helps the EU to advance the vision of a 'Global Research Area' where researchers are able to work together smoothly across borders, and where researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely. The most recent example of facilitating researcher's mobility is the agreement signed today by Commissioner Moedas to stimulate scientific exchanges between the Brazilian National Council of the State Funding Agencies and the European Research Council.

The EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy presented in June 2016 highlights science, technology and innovation as an important dimension of the EU's overall external policy. In particular, EU strengths in science and technology can be leveraged through science diplomacy, ensuring that the EU is a leading voice in global debates.

Background

The strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation supports the objectives of strengthening the EU’s research and innovation excellence, its attractiveness as a research destination and the competitiveness of its industry. The strategy also aims at tackling global societal challenges and supporting the EU’s external policies.

The progress report on the implementation of the strategy highlights achievements along the main areas of action: (i) opening up Horizon 2020 to innovators from across the world and supporting targeted cooperation actions with international partner countries and regions; (ii) improving the framework conditions that underpin international cooperation; (iii) playing a leading role in multilateral fora; (iv) reinforcing the partnership with Member States; (v) intensifying synergies with the EU's external policies; and (vi) strengthening communication.