Why is international cooperation important?
International cooperation in research and innovation is a strategic priority for the EU. It enables
- access to the latest knowledge and the best talent worldwide
- business opportunities in new and emerging markets
- science diplomacy to influence and enhance external policy
Multilateral research and innovation initiatives are the most effective way to tackle challenges facing our world - climate, health, food, energy and water - that are global by nature. Working together reduces the global burden, pools resources and achieves greater impact.
The Commission leads many global research partnerships. These partnerships are important for the EU to meet its international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Commission Communication on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation “Europe's strategy for international cooperation in a changing world”
A Staff Working Document provides further background information and analysis.
Strategy implementation reports:
The Strategic Forum for International scientific and technological Cooperation (SFIC) develops, implements and monitors the international dimension of the European Research Area.
International cooperation in Horizon Europe
Horizon Europe, the research and innovation funding programme 2021-2027 is one of the main tools to implement Europe’s strategy for international cooperation: the global approach to research and innovation.
The programme is open to researchers and innovators from around the globe who are encouraged to team up with EU partners in preparing proposals.
Horizon Europe will encourage international participation in different ways such as:
- its broadened association policy that allows more non-EU third countries to become to associated to the programme
- topics encouraging or requiring international cooperation
- joint or coordinated calls
- exceptional EU funding for participants from non-associated third countries
- twinning activities with entities from non-associated non-EU countries
- topics contributing to the implementation of multilateral or bilateral agreements or initiatives
The programme also includes targeted actions with key partners from non-EU countries, including the development of the Africa initiative that will draw on topics across the clusters of pillar II of Horizon Europe.
Which countries will be associated to Horizon Europe?
Association to Horizon Europe is the closest form of cooperation with non-EU countries, which allows entities of associated countries to participate in programme actions on equal terms with entities of EU countries. It is covered in Article 16 of the Horizon Europe Regulation.
It is offered not only to EU neighbouring countries, but also to any country in the world with a strong research and innovation capacity that share common values.
There are four categories of countries eligible for association with the programme
- Members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA)
- Acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates
- European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries
- Other third countries and territories that fulfil a set of criteria related to their economic, political and research and innovation systems
As of 25 April 2022, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey have applicable association agreements in place. Association agreements have also been signed with Albania, Tunisia, Ukraine. They are currently undergoing national ratification procedures and are expected to enter into force shortly.
Association negotiations have been concluded with the Faroe Islands. The agreement is yet to be signed and concluded.
The United Kingdom will be associated by means of a Protocol to the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Association negotiations with Morocco continue. The exploratory talks with the Republic of Korea are progressing. Exploratory talks with Canada and New Zealand have been finalised.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
Useful material and publications
Partner countries and regions in Horizon Europe
The EU maintains policy dialogues with countries and regions across the globe, through 3 different forms of cooperation
Horizon Europe is the most open and by far the largest research and innovation programme globally. Association of non-EU countries to the programme is one of the key vehicles to ensure this openness.
Associated membership is the closest form of cooperation in R&I for non-EU countries, by providing, as far as possible, the same rights and obligations to these countries’ research and innovation entities as those accorded to entities of EU Member States. It makes it easier to work on and fund joint projects.
This framework also expands the horizons for national researchers and entities to collaborate with the EU’s and other participants from the Associated Countries, in a broad range of calls. The associated country provides a financial contribution based on an international agreement with the EU.
|Associated countries in Horizon Europe
(with applicable association agreements in place)
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Kosovo*||Norway|
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence
Previously associated countries under Horizon 2020
Association of non-EU countries to the EU framework programme for Research and Innovation has been possible for many years. Under Horizon 2020, a wide number of countries became associated.
As with Horizon Europe, association under Horizon 2020 aimed to make international research cooperation easier, in particular by facilitating the creation, implementation and funding of joint projects with international partners.
In Horizon 2020, association was open to:
- accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey)
- European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland)
- countries or territories covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy that fulfilled certain criteria (Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, Tunisia, Ukraine)
- countries or territories that were associated to the previous research and innovation programme (Faroe Islands)
Ongoing dialogues and other current agreements with international partners
Bilateral science and technology agreements
The EU has bilateral agreements with 20 individual countries around the world. These agreements are based on common interests and priorities, aiming to increase cooperation in research and innovation.
The list of countries with bilateral science and technology agreements with the EU is currently being updated.
More information on S&T agreement with Russia
Science and technology dialogues between the EU and other regions of the world combine policy dialogue with project-based and bottom-up cooperation.
Regional science cooperation seeks to find synergies with other EU policies and activities, and to complement EU countries' bilateral actions.
|Countries with bilateral science and technology (S&T) agreements with the EU||Regional dialogues|
|Canada||New Zealand||Gulf countries|
|Chile||South Africa||Latin America and Caribbean|
|India||Ukraine||South East Asia|
|Japan||United States||Western Balkans|
Horizon Europe is the biggest EU research and innovation programme ever with more than €90 billion of funding available over 7 years (2021 to 2027). It is open to the world, which means that participants from all over the world can participate in most calls.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated and candidate Associated countries where they are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available to their participants in Horizon Europe projects.
Projects and results
Research project database (CORDIS)
The Commission's primary portal for results of EU-funded research projects
For previous research and innovation programmes, please contact the research enquiries service
Project success stories
Stories of successful EU-funded research projects in international cooperation
Horizon results platform
Participants of framework programmes present their results for you to search, contact their owners, and form partnerships on this platform
Coronavirus Global Research and Innovation Collaboration Portal
The portal provides networking and matchmaking opportunities for research organisations, independent researchers and projects on the socio-economic aspects of the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. This digital hub connects research organisations and individual researchers and creates synergies with other online platforms on coronavirus.
DG Research and Innovation Directorate F: Global approach and international cooperation in R&I
The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020.
You can contact the research enquiry service to find out more about research in Europe, the EU's research and innovation funding programmes as well as calls for proposals and project funding.