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

  • 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 offered not only to EU neighbouring countries, but to any country in the world with a strong research and innovation capacity that share common values.

There are 4 categories of countries eligible for association with the programme

  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates
  • European neighborhood policy countries
  • non-EU countries  and territories that fulfil a set of criteria related to their economic, political and research and innovation systems

The following countries have expressed a formal interest in association to Horizon Europe as of June 2021: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Norway, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Serbia, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

*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

Regularly updated progress on association talks

Questions and answers on the United Kingdom's participation in Horizon Europe


International cooperation in Horizon Europe
Africa Initiative

Partner countries and regions in Horizon 2020

The EU maintains policy dialogues with countries and regions across the globe, through 3 different forms of cooperation

Associated countries

Association to the research and innovation framework programme is the closest form of cooperation with countries outside the EU. It makes it easier to work on and fund joint projects.

Association gives the legal entities from the associated country, as far as possible, the same access to actions and funding from the EU research and innovation programme as legal entities from EU countries. The associated country provides a financial contribution proportional to its GDP and on the basis of an international agreement with the EU.

In Horizon 2020, association is open to

  • accession countries, candidate countries and potential candidates
  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members
  • countries or territories covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy that fulfil certain criteria
  • countries or territories that were associated to the previous research and innovation programme

List of countries associated to Horizon 2020

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.

List of countries with a bilateral science and technology agreement with the EU

Regional dialogues

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.

Associated countries in Horizon 2020
Albania Israel Switzerland
Armenia Moldova Tunisia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Montenegro Turkey
Faroe Islands North Macedonia Ukraine
Georgia Norway  
Iceland Serbia  


Countries with bilateral science and technology (S&T) agreements with the EU Regional dialogues
Algeria Japan Africa
Argentina    Jordan Black sea
Australia    Korea Central Asia
Brazil Mexico Eastern partnership
Canada    Morocco Gulf countries
Chile    New Zealand Latin America and Caribbean
China    Russia Mediterranean
Egypt    South Africa Pacific
India    United States South East Asia
    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.

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.


Staff working document - Enhancing and Focusing EU International Cooperation in Research and Innovation: A Strategic Approach

Countries associated to Horizon 2020 framework programme

Countries with international agreements on science and technology

Online library of EU international cooperation research publications

Research and innovation policies and performances for countries associated to Horizon 2020 and  with bilateral science and technology agreements with the EU

European Parliament Communication on the global approach to research and innovation: Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative


European Commission

DG Research and Innovation Directorate H: International cooperation

National Contact Points

The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020.

Research enquiry service

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.