Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
EU and Eastern Partnership countries stepping up cooperation on innovation with the EU4Innovation initiative
Commissioners Carlos Moedas and Johannes Hahn with Jean-Christophe Belliard, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service launched today the EU4Innovation initiative together with the Eastern Partnership countries, in Yerevan, Armenia.
The launch took place during the eighth Eastern Partnership Informal dialogue, hosted by Armenia which brought together Ministers and high level officials of the six Eastern Partnership countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine - for a high-level exchange on future developments in the Eastern Partnership and key areas of cooperation.
The new EU initiative, EU4Innovation, will combine all EU activities that support the development of Eastern Partnership countries (EaP) innovation capacities, notably those funded under the Horizon 2020 programme and the European Neighbourhood Instrument. EU Commissioners and the respective Research and Innovation Ministers of the six Eastern Partnership countries also discussed common challenges and responses to improving research and innovation cooperation. The Ministers reflected on how to integrate Eastern Partnership and EU Research and Innovation systems better and foster cooperation with and between the six Eastern Partnership countries further. This will bring new mobility opportunities for administrations, businesses, professionals, students and researchers and will foster research-industry partnerships amongst others.
Armenia joins Horizon 2020 to work with EU in research and innovation
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner of Research, Science and Innovation, and Levon Mkrtchyan, Armenian Minister of Education and Science
The agreement associating Armenia to Horizon 2020 was signed today by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Levon Mkrtchyan, Armenian Minister for Education and Science.
Armenia has until now been able to participate in Horizon 2020 only as a third country. This means its entities have not counted towards the minimum number of participants required for a project, and have not had access to some important parts of the programme such as support to innovative businesses. Its representatives have not had access to key policy bodies.
Thanks to this agreement, its research institutes, universities and individual researchers will now have access to all opportunities offered by Horizon 2020 in diverse areas, from fundamental science to demonstration projects, on an equal footing with researchers and organisations from EU Member States and other countries associated to the programme. Armenian SMEs and businesses will also be able to benefit from increased support to develop new ideas and bring products and services to the market.
In the Seventh Framework Programme (2017-13), which preceded Horizon 2020, Armenian organisations participated in 35 signed projects. In Horizon 2020, they are already participating in five projects.
The Eastern Partnership (EaP), launched at the Prague Summit of 7 May 2009, is a joint initiative of the EU and 6 Eastern European partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) that aims to bring Eastern European countries closer to the EU.
It builds on existing bilateral relations between the EU and its partner countries and represents the Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).
The EaP follows two parallel tracks: bilateral and multilateral. The bilateral dimension supports closer bilateral relations between EU and each Eastern partner country. The multilateral dimension provides a forum for dialogue and exchange, via thematic platforms and flagship initiatives and strengthens activities in support of the EU bilateral relationship with each of the Eastern European partners. Partnership with civil society and other stakeholders is also a key priority of the EaP.
Among the six EaP countries, Ukraine is the only country having a bilateral S&T Agreement with the EU.
At regional level, four multilateral policy platforms have been set up to deal with the topics of:
- democracy, good governance and stability
- economic integration and convergence with EU policies
- energy security
- contacts between people
Cooperation on research and innovation is addressed in the 4th platform, which also covers the fields of education, youth, culture and ICT. In view of addressing the bi-regional cooperation in research and innovation in an ad-hoc format, a dedicated Panel on research and innovation, attached to the 4th platform was launched on 13 November 2013. This new EaP Panel on research and innovation gathers senior officials and experts from Member States and Eastern European partner countries, as well as the Committee of the Regions and the EaP Civil Society Forum.
The Panel creation is in direct line with the development of a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space (CKIS), set as a key political objective of the ENP review of May 2011. The CKIS is indeed meant to cover policy dialogue, national and regional capacity-building, cooperation in research and innovation, increased mobility opportunities for students, researchers and academics.
All EaP countries have a long tradition of scientific excellence, but have faced a dramatic decrease of their R&D intensity since the early 90s.
That led to the shutting down or reorientation of many research branches as well as a significant decrease in the number of researchers.Because of the difficulties they are facing, all countries have launched ambitious national strategies to modernise and boost their research and innovation systems, notably through improving conditions for encouraging business activities and commercialization of R&D outcomes. This resulted in recent years in the emergence of many technology parks and incubators and reforms concerning venture funding or IPRs. It is in this context of on-going policy reforms that new dynamics exist for intensifying the bi-regional cooperation.
Cooperation between the Eastern Partnership and the EU on Research and Innovation:
State of Play
There has been a total of 535 participations from EaP countries in 427 projects in FP7, representing a total contribution from the EU budget to those partners of EUR 45.46 million. This is, however, largely dominated by Ukraine, having alone a total of 273 participations for a total contribution from the EU budget of EUR 26.68 million.
Priorities for the future
A double approach is proposed for identifying priorities for future cooperation with EaP countries:
- common societal challenges, like
- health, demographic change and well-being
- Climate action, or
- secure, clean and efficient energy
- cross-cutting issues to address in priority in order to improve the cooperation framework conditions. Including:
− Sharing best practices between EU Member States and EaP countries in research and innovation management and establish a regional evaluation platform
− Providing technical assistance and training to support EaP countries in improving their national research and innovation systems
− Promoting researchers mobility and common use of research infrastructures, notably through the creation of a regional network of Centres of Excellence that could potentially be connected to ESFRI (the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures)
− Promoting the link between state-of-the-art EU initiatives such as research-intensive clusters and technology platforms with similar structures in EaP countries, and enhancing the participation of EaP countries private companies in these structures
Black Sea Horizon (2015-2018)
The Black Sea Horizon (BSH) project has 3 main objectives:
- to support the EU’s external relations with the Black Sea region by significantly contributing to ongoing bi-regional and regional STI policy dialogues, and by increasing the knowledge base about the EU’s external environment
- to stimulate bi-regional STI cooperation and to strengthen the EU’s economic competitiveness
- to contribute to the establishment of supportive framework conditions by facilitating the pooling of resources and by identifying challenging thematic areas for mutual STI cooperation
IncoNet EaP (2013-2016)
The project aims to support the advancement of the bi-regional Science, Technology, and Innovation policy dialogue between the EU and the Eastern Partnership Countries, with an explicit focus on Climate Change, Energy and Health.