FP7 tailored for sustainability

International cooperation

International cooperation is an integral feature of the EU Framework Programmes. Just as greater pan-European research collaboration is one of the basic goals, with the ultimate aim of making the European Research Area (ERA) a reality, so international cooperation is encouraged to allow for world-class researchers and research institutions to work together and to increase effectiveness in contributing to solving societal problems in Europe and partner countries and regions.

This is particularly the case for sustainable development, since the challenge it poses transcends boundaries and requires stepped up efforts from local to global levels, integrating currently disconnected strands of knowledge and connecting this to the development of enabling policies and operational capabilities. Engaging in international partnerships in support of the transition towards sustainable development is one of the main indicators of the EU’s renewed Sustainable Development Strategy – see Tools (indicators and impact assessment tools). See also the lessons from ten years of international water research analysed by an external panel from the perspective of sustainable development, displayed in this section of the EU Water Initative website.

In FP7 by default, all research projects are open to international cooperation. That means that any third country researcher or institution can participate in FP7 calls. Some of this opening may be targeted to specific countries or regions and will then be identified as such in the annual work programmes. In addition, there are research projects addressing specific research challenges in the socio-economic context of partner countries or regions, called Specific International Cooperation Actions (SICAs). They require a balance in the composition of research teams, at least two from different European or Associated countries and two from different countries within a partner region (continent-sized countries such as China, India, Russia and Brazil are treated as regions for that purpose).

The theme-oriented international cooperation research actions are carried out under the ten themes in the Cooperation specific programme [pdf 287 Kb]. The international actions in the area of human potential are carried out under the People specific programme [pdf 104 Kb]. The Ideas specific programme is also open to international participation provided the applicant has a European institutional base. Cooperation is also possible, but not mandatory, as scientific excellence is the sole choice criterion of this specific programme independently managed by the European Research Council. Finally under the Capacities specific programme [pdf 156 Kb], support is to be provided for horizontal support actions and measures supporting international S&T policy dialogue and coordination, not the least to strengthen international cooperation throughout all other parts of FP7.

For more information, you can visit the dedicated International Cooperation portal, or the relevant section on the CORDIS Website. Alternatively, this European Commission report on International S&T Cooperation [pdf 832 Kb] provides a comprehensive overview of international cooperation opportunities in FP7.