International cooperation in research and innovation is one of the five areas in which the Member States launched "partnership" initiatives (ERA Groups) to increase cooperation. This was done as part of the Ljubljana process and following proposals from the Commission.
The partnership launched on international cooperation is a partnership between the European Union and Member States with the objective to implement the European strategy for international S&T cooperation. To drive it forward, the Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC) was established.
In September 2012 the Commission adopted a Communication 'Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: a strategic approach'. The Communication sets out a new strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, hereby addressing the further development of the external dimension of the ERA.
In its Conclusions of 31 May 2011 the Council called on ERAC and on the ERA-Groups to contribute to the implementation and monitoring of the progress of the Innovation Union initiative and to provide input to the development of a proposal to the ERA Framework. In response to this the SFIC adopted its opinion on the ERA Framework on 21 November 2011.
In October 2010 the Innovation Union Flagship was adopted. Commitment 31 of the Innovation Union Flagship states that the EU and its Member States should treat scientific cooperation with third countries as an issue of common concern and develop common approaches. This should contribute to global approaches and solutions to societal challenges and to the establishment of a level-playing field. The EU and Member States should act in a concerted manner when engaging in S&T agreements and activities with third countries.
The European Commission proposed the Strategic European Framework for International Science and Technology Cooperation to strengthen science and technology cooperation with non-EU countries.
The objective of the strategy is for Member States and the European Union to define together priority research and technology areas where a coherent effort would generate more added value than bilateral activities. Currently the Member States and the European Union are involved in a myriad of research cooperation activities with non-EU countries. Joining forces in relevant areas will help increase the impact of the pursued activities, optimise the use of available resources and avoid duplication of efforts.
Better coordination between Member States and the European Union is needed to address global challenges such as climate change, food and water supply or energy security, and to promote the corresponding European policy goals and a global sustainable development.
The Competitiveness Council of 2 December 2008 welcomed the Strategic European Framework and invited the EU Member States and the Commission to form a European Partnership in the field of international scientific and technological cooperation with a view to implement the European strategy. The Council further invited the Member States and the Commission to establish a Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC) to drive forward this European Partnership.