The international cooperation activities in 1998 took place in the context of cooperation strategies differentiated according to the different categories of partner countries of the European Union.
- Continuation of the efforts to boost participation by the applicant countries: all Central and Eastern European candidate countries and Cyprus accepted the offer of association with the 5th Framework Programme. This allows researchers from the countries concerned to take part in all the specific programmes and to receive funding from the Community, in return for contributions from their countries to the budget for the Framework Programme. After the Commission was granted a negotiating mandate in October 1998, the detailed terms of association were agreed with most of the applicant countries by the end of 1998 and with the rest at the start of 1999 so that they will be able to take effect with the start of the 5th Framework Programme. As regards Malta and Turkey, their association with the 5th Framework Programme will be possible once they have made formal demand and the necessary agreements have been concluded.
- Closer cooperation with the Union's industrialised partners: the scientific and technical cooperation agreement signed with the USA in December 1997 entered into force on 14 October 1998. The negotiations with Russia were completed with a view to a cooperation agreement expanding current scientific and technological links by putting them on a long-term footing and resolving the intellectual property and tax issues. The Commission negotiated extension of the association with Israel to the 5th Framework Programme, clearing the way for signature of the agreement on 3 March 1999. The association agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein was also extended to the 5th Framework Programme, as was the scientific and technical cooperation agreement with South Africa. The scope of agreements with Australia and Canada was enlarged to cover all the thematic programmes of the 5th Framework Programme. Finally, an agreement is being negotiated with Switzerland.
- In the case of the emerging economies, one particularly noteworthy event was the signature of the scientific and technical cooperation agreement with China on 22 December 1998, as well as the preparation of a similar agreement with Argentina which has been initialled early 1999.
- For the developing countries, various coordination schemes were started in line with the communication on "scientific and technological research - a strategic part of the European Union's development cooperation with developing countries".21 In the health sector, for example, the European malaria vaccine initiative (IEMV) coordinates efforts in Europe. In the case of the environment, the Convention on Desertification was implemented. In 1998 three thematically inter-connected scientific conferences took place at EXPO '98 as part of the ACP-EU Fisheries' Research Initiative22. Finally, the members of the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development continued their coordination activities, in liaison with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
- To strengthen the synergies between the different forms of scientific and technical cooperation in Europe, the Commission continued to support the COST programme, which started 17 new projects in 1998. The Commission also contributed to six projects and nine "umbrella initiatives" under the EUREKA programme in 1998. Detailed discussions with industry on the interaction between these instruments and the Framework Programme led to the inclusion of clauses in the specific programmes, in particular to open up the possibility of projects in cooperation with EUREKA as part of the key actions.
COM(97)174, 25 April 1997.
22- Ocean Food Webs and Economic Productivity, Integrated Coastal
Zone Management and Sustainable Use of Aquatic Biodiversity: Data,
Tools and Collaboration.