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EU-China Summit: new flagship initiatives in research and innovation

Brussels, 2 June 2017

The European Union and China will boost their research and innovation cooperation with a new package of flagship initiatives targeting the areas of Food, Agriculture and Biotechnologies, Environment and Sustainable Urbanisation, Surface Transport, Safer and Greener aviation, and Biotechnologies for Environment and Human Health.

This is one of the outcomes of the 3rd EU-China Innovation Co-operation Dialogue, organised today in the margins of the 19th EU-China Summit, and co-chaired by Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Wan Gang, China's Minister of Science and Technology.

These flagship initiatives will translate into a number of topics dedicated to cooperation with China under Horizon 2020, the EU's funding programme for research and innovation. The emphasis will be on green initiatives with actions on ecological quality of water in cities, nature-based solutions for restoration and rehabilitation of urban ecosystem, reduction of transport impact on air quality, aviation operations impact on climate change or biotechnologies for environmental remediation.

Commissioner Moedas and Minister Wan also signed an administrative arrangement renewing the EU-China co-funding mechanism for research and innovation PDF icon. For the period 2018-2020, the Chinese side will reserve an annual budget of 200 Million RMB (more than €25 million per year) for the benefit of China-based entities that will participate in projects with European partners under Horizon 2020. The EU expects to continue spending over €100 million per year for the benefit of Europe-based entities in Horizon 2020 projects with Chinese participants.

Commissioner Moedas said: "Today's agreements reinforce the EU-China cooperation in research and innovation and mark a milestone in our collaboration. Innovation is at the core of both EU and China strategies for prosperity and the measures that we are taking today show our commitment to meet the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development".

This round of the Innovation Co-operation Dialogue also discussed progress on framework conditions and innovation cooperation. In particular, the two sides have agreed to promote open science and to exchange best practices in open access to publications and research data, and have confirmed the principle of reciprocity in access to Science Technology and Innovation resources. They agreed also to jointly promote innovation and entrepreneurship and to develop new ways of promoting EU-China innovation cooperation, for example by strengthening the links between innovation cooperation platforms, applying the co-funding mechanism to future SME cooperation and encouraging and supporting start-ups and start-up services.

In addition, the Commission's science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the Chinese Academy of Sciences signed an overarching Research Framework Arrangement building on their longstanding cooperation in the field of remote sensing and earth observation. The objective of the agreement is to expand their collaboration and develop new scientific approaches in key areas, such as air quality, renewable energy, climate, environmental protection, digital economy, regional innovation policy and smart specialisation.

Background

China is a long standing key partner country on research and innovation cooperation for the European Union. The relationship is governed by the Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement signed in December 1998 and last renewed in December 2014. In addition, an Agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the Government of the People's Republic of China for R&D Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy is in place since 2008. A new High Level Innovation Cooperation Dialogue (ICD) was inaugurated in 2013 raising the level and intensity of research and innovation relations with China and a new co-funding mechanism agreed at the 2015 Summit and ICD.

The EU Science Technology and Innovation Cooperation with China has intensified in recent years. China was the third most important international partner country under the EU's Framework Programme 7 (FP7) that run from 2007 to 2013, with 335 participations of Chinese organisations in 227 collaborative research projects and a total EU contribution of 33 million euros. Moreover, the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme counted with around 316 Chinese participations.

China remains a key partner country in Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation running from 2014 to 2020. So far 695 applications from China were presented in 304 eligible proposals leading to 117 participations of Chinese organisations in 47 collaborative research projects.