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13 November 2015

EU – Mexico enhanced cooperation in Research and Innovation

Photo from the meeting Enrique Cabrero ,Conacyt President, on the left, and Carlos Moedas sign the implementing arrangement at Conacyt headquarters

The momentum and visibility of EU-Mexico research cooperation was increased by Commissioner Moedas' first visit to Mexico.

His visit started with a very positive and constructive meeting with Dr Cabrero Mendoza, Director General of the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) that consolidated and further enhanced this fruitful cooperation. At Conacyt headquarters, Commissioner Moedas signed an Implementing Arrangement between the European Research Council (ERC) and CONACYT to allow Mexico's most promising young researchers to come to Europe and temporarily join ERC-led research teams. At the signing ceremony were rectors of major Mexican universities participating in the FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes.

A meeting with Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, Mexican Minister of Energy, provided the opportunity to discuss future S&T cooperation opportunities between the EU and Mexico in renewable energies. The Commissioner set out the progress on renewables in Europe and the political goals that are pursued in the context of the Energy Union. The coordinated geothermal call, which is underway, was mentioned as well as possible further cooperation opportunities in renewables, important for both sides in the context of COP21. The first coordinated call between the EU and Mexico on geothermal energy was published in October as part of the Horizon 2020 work programme for 2016-2017, with a total budget of €20 million with each side contributing an equal amount. The EU-Mexico coordinated call on geothermal energy is expected to bring important benefits which range from accelerated technology development and increased knowledge and expertise to enhanced risk reduction.

During the first day of the Commissioner's mission he also intervened at the final day of the 4th Annual Research Network Meeting of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD). He supported global collaboration against Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and implementation research in order to ensure fast uptake and scale-up of healthcare innovations adapted to different settings, and ensure that knowledge generated by research is actually used in real life. A working lunch with the President of ProMexico (confederation of industries) provided the opportunity to discuss and promote open innovation and Mexican SME participation in European R&I Programmes.

On the second day of his visit (13/11/2015), Commissioner Moedas attended the GEO (Group on Earth Observation) 2015 Mexico City Ministerial Summit where he underlined the role of the EU in helping global earth observation systems reach maturity, namely through the Horizon 2020 and Copernicus programmes. The Commissioner co-chaired the opening session of GEO accompanied by the President of INEGI, Dr Eduardo Sojo. During the meeting Commissioner Moedas stated that "This meeting is a sign of our commitment to work together to tackle global challenges. We cannot afford to be the generation who failed in efforts to address these challenges".

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Policy Background

Bilateral relations between the EU and Mexico are governed by the Economic Partnership, Political Co-operation and Co-operation Agreement (a.k.a. the Global Agreement signed in Brussels on 8 December 1997 and entered into force on 1st October 2000). In January 2013, President Barroso and President Peña Nieto decided to explore the options for modernizing the EU-Mexico Global Agreement.

In their Joint Declaration after the last Mexico-EU Summit in July 2015, leaders reaffirmed their willingness to launch, in 2015, the process of starting negotiations to modernise the Global Agreement.

At the Brussels Summit, both sides also decided to strengthen the research and innovation capacities, in particular in the following areas: information and communication technologies, renewable energies, health and the marine/maritime research. Also, a challenge has been identified to incorporate enterprises in exchange activities in this field, in order to strengthen the link between innovation with competitiveness and employment.

Signed on 03/02/2004 the Bilateral Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the United Mexican States, came into force on 13/06/2005. It was renewed for another five years in 2010 and again in 2015. The science, technology and innovation cooperation is to be seen in the context of the broader EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership agreed in 2009. The objective of the S&T Agreement is to encourage, develop and facilitate cooperative activities in areas of common interest by carrying out and supporting scientific and technological research and development activities. The Joint Steering Committee Meetings (JSCM) are normally held once a year. The participants are the Mexican National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) from the Mexican side, and from the EU side, Directorate General for Research and Innovation.

Mexico ranked twelfth among the International Partner Countries in terms of participation in the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Innovation with some 119 participations in 85 projects with a total EU contribution to Mexican participants of about €13.31 million. In addition over 56 Mexican researchers participated in the Marie Sklodowska-Curie programme.

So far, in Horizon 2020 12 projects have been signed or under preparation involving a total of 17 participants from Mexico, most of which are for Marie Curie actions under excellent science.

The new International Cooperation strategy for Research and Innovation has radically altered the conditions under which Mexican organisations participate in H2020 research projects. There is no longer automatic funding for Mexican participants from the EU. Therefore, CONACYT has put a co-funding mechanism in place providing a source of financing "project-by-project participation" to Mexican partners in successful Horizon 2020 projects covering all thematic areas.

In Horizon 2020, participants from Mexico are no longer automatically eligible for funding. In February 2014 Mexico was the first partner country to create a complementary funding mechanism PDF icon. CONACYT-Horizon 2020 provides a source of financing "project-by-project participation" to Mexican partners in successful Horizon 2020 projects covering all thematic areas. This earmarked budget (FOINS) is managed by the International cooperation Directorate of CONACYT.

Key principles of the co-funding mechanism

When a proposal with a Mexican participant will be selected for funding by the EC, the Mexican participant can apply to the CONACYT-Horizon 2020 for funding. The registered pre-proposals/projects which are approved by the EC, will be evaluated by the National Mexican Agency for Research and Innovation (CONACYT) according to the Terms and Conditions of the CONACYT-H2020 Call and guidelines (excellence, efficiency and impact of the proposal). All areas are accepted, however the priority areas are: Health (Diabetes, obesity and infectious diseases), Energy, Technologic Development (Advanced materials, nanotechnology, advanced manufactures, Information and Communication Technologies), Environment (Climate change, Water Management and Natural Disasters Prevention), Sustainable Development (Food Security, Urban Development) and Society.

No later than 30 calendar days afterwards CONACYT will inform the Mexican participant of the result of the evaluation. The participation of a Mexican entity in Horizon2020 must be consistent with the amount of financial support that has been requested. CONACYT will finance up to an 85% of the total amount requested and approved in the case of public entities (Institutions of Higher Education (IHE), Technologic and Research Centres) and private IHE; and up to 70% of the total amount requested and approved for private entities, except IHE. The complementary amount must be provided by the Mexican entity.

DG Education and Culture and the Ministry of Public Education of the United Mexican States are responsible for the policy dialogue on education. In October 2009, the Council approved a strategic partnership with Mexico, following the Communication on an EU-Mexico Strategic Partnership of July 2008. A Joint Executive Plan was consequently adopted at the EU-Mexico Summit of 16 May 2010 which underlines, inter alia, the importance of cooperation on education between the EU and Mexico. Stress is notably laid on academic cooperation and mobility. A Joint Declaration to enhance cooperation and dialogue on Education and Training was signed in June 2009. The Joint Declaration establishes the basis for regular exchanges of best practice on issues such as the efficiency and equity of education systems and the internationalisation and modernisation of higher education and training systems. A first EU-Mexico Higher Education Conference was held on 20-22 September 2010 which was followed up at political level by a Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) in Mexico City on 23 November 2010. At the meeting, parties agreed to carry out joint activities to further facilitate mobility and academic cooperation between the EU and Mexico. A joint EU–Mexico study on internationalization and transparency tools has been finalised in October 2012.



EU-MEX INNOVA (2013-2016)

The European Union – Mexico Bilateral Innovation Initiative (EU-MEX-INNOVA) seeks to develop and strengthen collaborations between the two sides to cope societal challenges and industrial technologies through international cooperation, for instance in the areas of climate change, food security, sustainable development, clean energy, health and transport, by making science, research and innovation proceed more rapidly and more cost effectively.



Background documents



European Commission
DG Research and Innovation
Luis Samaniego MOFFRE
Senior Policy Officer
Unit RTD C2 – North America, Latin America and the Caribbean
Telephone: (+32) 229 52611

Luis Samaniego Moffre