International Cooperation

Latin America and the Caribbean


10 November 2017

The VII EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meeting in Research and Innovation launches the first EU-CELAC Knowledge Week

EU – CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation – Seniors Official Meeting (© RREE El Salvador)

DG RTD co-organised the celebration of the first EU-Latin American and Caribbean Knowledge Week in San Salvador, which was officially launched by the VII EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meeting in Research and Innovation (SOM) on 2 October 2017.

The SOM was co-chaired by Begoña Arano, Head of Unit for North America, Latin America and the Cariibean at DG Research and Innovation and Erlinda Handal, Vice-Minister for Science and Technology of El Salvador, currently holding the pro tempore presidency of CELAC. It was officially opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hugo Martinez, and the EU Ambassador, Andreu Bassols, highlighting the Common Research Area as a stepping stone in the overall EU-CELAC partnership.

Addressing the sustainable development goals under Horizon 2020 and the Common Research Area were also at the heart of the Academic and Knowledge Summit (5-6 October), a congress of universities of more than 300 participants from both regions. The Summit concluded with a Declaration calling for further integration and highlighting the Common Research Area as the existing policy framework supporting academic and scientific cooperation between the EU-Latin American and the Caribbean.

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24 March 2017

The VI EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meeting on Research and Innovation drives forward the Common Research Area through concrete actions

Photo from the meeting
EU-CELAC representatives meeting in Brussels

One year after the official launch of the EU-CELAC Common Research Area, the meeting took stock of the important progress achieved so far and launched concrete actions in to empower the implementation of the Common Research Area, including under its three pillars: Mobility of Researchers, Research Infrastructures and Societal Challenges.

The meeting of the Senior Officials was chaired by Cristina Russo, Director for International Cooperation at DG Research and Innovation, and co-chaired by Erlinda Handál, Vice Minister for Science and Technology of El Salvador, representing the CELAC pro-tempore Presidency. The event gathered a high level audience and a high number of participation from both the EU Member States and the CELAC countries.

The meeting signalled the political importance that the cooperation between the two regions is acquiring and the role that Research and Innovation is playing as an indisputable driver for economic growth and sustainable development. During her intervention, Cristina Russo said: "we have a strategic, economic and political interest to provide a stronger cooperation framework in the area of Research and Innovation; we want to go beyond the project-based cooperation and lay the foundations of the Common Research Area; through Research and Innovation we can not only boost our scientific and academic ties but also construct an important building block of bi-regional cooperation".

One of the achievements of the meeting was the presentation of the Policy Advice Initiative to support CELAC countries in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals through Research and Innovation. The new instrument, launched by the European Commission, was well received by the participants and generated clear interest from a considerable number of countries.

In terms of additional concrete achievements on each of the Common Research Area pillars:

  • Mobility of Researchers: aside from supporting a more structured bi-regional academic and scientific dialogue, the participants committed towards the development of a regional mobility portal for researchers in CELAC, based on the EU experience with the Euraxess portal.
  • Research Infrastructures: the SOM endorsed the launch of the working group for policy coordination on Research Infrastructures (RI) as a first step towards establishing a more structured bi-regional cooperation on RI. The group will ensure policy coordination and sharing of good practices in policy development and mapping of research infrastructures.
  • Societal Challenges: the discussions focused on the progress made under the thematic groups and on the potential Horizon 2020 large scale topics specifically devoted to international cooperation with the CELAC region in the field of health, sustainable urbanisation and clean urban transport.

Building on the achievements in developing the Common Research Area, Senior Officials highlighted the importance of research and innovation in the overall EU-CELAC partnership and committed towards addressing prominently R&I cooperation at the debate of the next EU-CELAC Summit, which will take place in El Salvador on 26-27 October 2017.

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Policy background

Science & Technology Cooperation with CELAC region

Cooperation in research and innovation with Latin-America has a long history, based on common cultural roots and shared interests.

During the seven years of the EU 7th Framework Programme (FP7), from 2007 to 2013, 707 Latin-American and Caribbean partners were supported in various projects, mainly in the areas of Environment; Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology; ICT and Health. Over €100 million has been granted to 720 CELAC participants for these activities. In addition there have been over 250 participations of institutions from the region in completed or on-going Marie Curie Actions, including in the staff exchange programme IRSES.

Cooperation with these countries will continue and grow under the new Framework Programme of the EU, Horizon 2020, which is fully open to the world.

The EU has formal Science and Technology Cooperation Agreements with four countries of the region: Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

During FP7, we developed, in parallel, an increased cooperation at regional level, on topics of mutual interest, and in line with the new EU International Cooperation Strategy for Research and Innovation and the report on its implementation.


The EU-CELAC cooperation is in charge of the implementation of the EU-CELAC Action Plan, originally agreed on at the 2010 EU-LAC Summit in Madrid and expanded at the 2013 Santiago EU-CELAC Summit PDF icon. The first item on the Action Plan addresses Science, Research, Innovation and Technology and includes the setting-up and implementation of a Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation (JIRI) and the creation of an EU-CELAC Knowledge Area.

CELAC has a rotating presidency among its members for one year at a time. The three presidencies (past, current and future) work closely together as a ‘troika’. CELAC convenes Summits among its members, and about every second year an EU-CELAC Summit takes place.

The EU-CELAC Action Plan for 2013-2015 PDF icon (updated and adapted at the 2013 Summit) has 8 key areas of activity, the first of which is Science, Research, innovation and technology:

  1. Science, research, innovation and technology
  2. Sustainable development; environment; climate change; biodiversity; energy
  3. Regional integration and interconnectivity to promote social inclusion and
  4. cohesion
  5. Migration
  6. Education and employment to promote social inclusion and cohesion
  7. The world drug problem
  8. Gender
  9. Investments and entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

DG RTD oversees the implementation of this first item on the Action Plan together with the country in the presidency of CELAC. Regular Senior Officials Meetings (SOMs) are convened to discuss the cooperation in the JIRI, alternating between Europe and the CELAC region. These meetings report back to the political SOMs which are organised and co-chaired by EEAS and take place more frequently.

Five thematic Working Groups have been set up under the JIRI to discuss and make suggestions for joint actions. A sixth Working Group on Instruments has also been put in place and its mandate was expanded at the last SOM to include researchers’ careers.

  1. Bioeconomy including food security, co-chaired by Argentina and France
  2. Renewable energies, co-chaired by Mexico and Spain
  3. Biodiversity and climate change, co-chaired by Colombia and France
  4. ICT for meeting societal challenges, co-chaired by Chile and France
  5. Health, co-chaired by Spain and Brazil
  6. Cross cutting WG on instruments and funding, co-chaired by Portugal and Mexico

The main achievements of the JIRI include the following:

  • A consolidated Science and Technology bi-regional dialogue on all these issues through the working groups mentioned above, which are each co-chaired by one CELAC and one EU country and which identify concrete areas for thematic cooperation
  • The launch of the ERANet-LAC project which started in 2013 and brings together 17 funding agencies from Europe and CELAC. Under this project two joint calls for research projects co-funded by these agencies (without further funding from the EC) are foreseen: the first was launched in 2014 with a pre-committed budget of €10 million allocated by 17 funding agencies. The second call will be launched in 2015



ALCUENET (2012-2017)

Latin America, Caribbean and European Union Network on Research and Innovation intends to establish an EU-LAC platform bringing together actors involved in R&I orientation, funding and implementation, as well as other relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector and the civil society, in an effort to:

  1. generate relevant information for the design and implementation of specific plans and projects including R&D activities and set the basis for the establishment of an enabling policy and institutional environment for R&I better focused on addressing societal challenges and, where appropriate, key enabling technologies of common interest
  2. to support the development of more strategic and result-oriented partnerships in the context of bi-regional policy cooperation frameworks


ERANet-LAC (2013-2017)

The Network of the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean Countries on Joint Innovation and Research Activities will strengthen the bi-regional partnership in Science, Technology and Innovation by planning and implementing concrete joint activities and by creating a sustainable framework for future bi-regional joint activities.


EU-LAC Health (2011-2016)

"Defining a Roadmap for Cooperative Health research between the EU and Latin America-Caribbean countries: a Policy Oriented Approach". Intends to define a detailed roadmap to guide policy-makers and other stakeholders on future actions to support cooperative health research between European and Latin America and Caribbean countries.



Framework documents

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