EU policies and structures for supporting collaborative efforts in research and technology within the Union and beyond are long-established and have a proven record of achievements. But this effort needs re-shaping via a new strategy to strengthen ties between Europe and international research partners. Doing so will help address global research challenges, such as climate change and bring benefits to the Union's economy in terms of higher competitiveness and quality of life.
The EU has a long tradition of pursuing international science and technology (S&T) co-operation. It has supported collaborative research for more than 20 years with partners in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America, the Mediterranean basin, Russia and OECD countries. For instance, some 40 000 research personnel from both the EU and third countries participated in more than 3 000 agricultural, health and natural resource projects from1983 to 2002.
|The EU needs a new strategy to reshape how it co-operates in the S&T arena internationally.|
© European Commission
Such co-operation promotes development of long-term durable partnerships, says Zoran Stančič, deputy director-general of the Commission's Research Directorate-General, in a recent EU publication entitled Reinforcing European research policy – the international dimension. The focus of these partnerships “is the added value and cost effectiveness that joint research can generate.”
Noting that Europe's S&T international co-operation stimulates socio-economic development and global competitiveness, and has been increasingly underpinned by bi-regional dialogues at political level, he also insisted that this dialogue must be broadened and developed in a more structured way.
New levels of co-operation
Referring to a new understanding that “the production and use of scientific knowledge is in itself a driving force,” Stančič said “this new paradigm“ calls for a constructive and complex interplay of the Union's policies. In other words, a new strategy to promote international S&T co-operation is needed.
According to the Research DG, the strategy should have three goals, namely to:
Implementation of the strategy should be based on two integrated approaches, argues the Commission. One requires closer coordination of EU national policies with those of third countries. The other calls for promoting further the participation of third countries in the Union's Framework Research programmes. This should be done on a case-by-case basis and focused primarily on FP projects designed to increase Europe's competitiveness.
- reinforce and enlarge Europe's competitiveness by forging strategic partnerships with third countries in selected sectors, thus attracting the best of their scientists to work in Europe
- address problems common to both Europe and its third-country partner(s)
- use S&T co-operation to strengthen Europe's relations with third countries and to support its position regarding common scientific policy issues
Besides the four accession and candidate countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Turkey, the Commission has identified four geopolitical groupings of partners as primary participants in the new strategy. These are: countries bordering the EU; developing countries in Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific; industrialised countries (Australia, Canada, USA and Japan, etc); and international organisations, such as the WHO, OECD and the UN.