Towards a EU-China Food, Agriculture, Biotechnology Flagship

Tuesday, 3 December, 2013

The EU and China launched the first EU-China flagship initiative for research and innovation at the EU-China summit on 21 November 2013 (16th EU-China Summit Press Release ), with the signature of a Letter of Intent on Research and Innovation Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology (FAB) between the European Commission and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS). This new initiative will ensure concrete, substantial and balanced joint research and innovation cooperation activities on selected priorities of common interest. It was announced during the 1st EU-China Innovation Cooperation Dialogue (DG RTD Press release) (Innovation Cooperation Dialogue Joint Statement ).

The Letter of Intent was signed by four Commissioners, respectively in charge of Agriculture and Rural Development, Research, Innovation and Science, Health, and the Environment, and by the President of the CAAS, Vice-Minister of Agriculture. It will pave the way for an ambitious strategic long-term partnership in these fields, building on the long-standing EU-China research and innovation cooperation, within the overall context of the Scientific & Technological Cooperation Agreement (More information).

The “Science, technology and innovation” chapter of the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation adopted at the Summit states: “Joint research and innovation initiatives will be further explored, in particular in the areas of food, agriculture and biotechnology, sustainable urbanisation, aviation, water, health and ICT, by developing joint funding programmes and promoting enhanced mutual participation of Chinese and EU researchers and innovators into respective programmes”. (More information )

The flagship initiative for Research and Innovation (R&I) cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology (FAB) is a win-win opportunity, and was discussed and finalised at the third meeting of the EU-China Task Force on 11 October 2011. Input from an EU-China experts’ seminar helped define the strategic research and innovation agenda (More information).

Research and innovation cooperation in the areas of food, agriculture and biotechnologies addresses important common challenges such as food security, food safety and healthy diets, animal health, sustainable agriculture and development of a low-carbon bioeconomy. Given the economic weight of China, even small moves to more sustainability in primary production and processing can lead to substantial global benefits for the environment and climate. The opportunity to export sustainable solutions and scale-up the potential of the Chinese market will enhance innovation in Europe and contribute to growth and jobs. This cooperation initiative will therefore contribute to a greener economy, both in China and in the EU.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council stated in his remarks following the 16th EU-China summit that “green growth and innovation are at the centre of both our internal strategies, the EU 2020 Strategy and in the Chinese 12th Five-Year Plan and the decisions made by the Third Plenum. We have therefore agreed that green growth should become a key area of strategic and practical bilateral cooperation, and we have also launched, at the side of the summit, a new High Level Dialogue on Innovation Cooperation” (More information ).

As regards implementation of the flagship initiative in the short-term, several topics have been earmarked in the 2014/2015 Horizon 2020 work programmes as particularly well suited for international cooperation, stemming from the EU-China dialogue on research and innovation and the China-EU Task Force on Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology (See joint conclusions of the Task Force ), and one dedicated EU-China topic has been introduced.


Other topics earmarked for international cooperation at a global level might also attract Chinese participants:

PHC-07-2014: Improving the control of infectious epidemics and foodborne outbreaks through rapid identification of pathogens

SFS-07b-2015: Management and sustainable use of genetic resources

In addition, Horizon 2020 is fully open to international participation in all fields and areas. Chinese Researchers, enterprises and institutions are strongly encouraged to team up with their European partners to make best use of Europe's excellent opportunities in research and innovation.


Thomas Arnold, Advisor ‘Sustainable Bioeconomy’, DG RTD

Nicolas Dandois, Policy Officer, DG AGRI