Horizon 2020, the European Union’s framework programme for research and innovation is ‘Open to the World’. International cooperation is mainstreamed across the whole programme. Scientific cooperation with non-EU countries aims to strengthen the EU’s excellence in research and innovation, its attractiveness and economic and industrial competitiveness as well as support EU external policies. Promoting a network of research entities and cooperation, the programme connects researchers and innovators to tackle global societal challenges – as embodied in the UN Sustainable Development Goals – such as climate change and food security. Science diplomacy is also an increasingly important tool to enhance cooperation with non-EU countries.
Associated country status is the closest form of cooperation a country outside the EU can have in research and innovation programmes. Developing global research partnerships is a key priority for the EU and is the only way to tackle global challenges in areas like energy, health, food and water. It is an important means to make cooperation and funding of joint projects with international partners as smooth as possible in order to enable mutual access to excellence and research resources, pursue solutions to global challenges together and help companies integrate in international value chains. Association means granting to the legal entities from the Associated Country, as far as possible, the same conditions of access to actions and funding from the EU framework programme as those accorded to legal entities from EU countries. Association to Horizon 2020 is governed by Article 7 of the Horizon 2020 Regulation. Researchers and institutions from an associated non-EU country can participate in the programme and receive funding under the same conditions as EU country organisations and researchers. At the same time, the associated country is expected to provide a financial contribution in proportion to their GDP and on the basis of an international agreement concluded between the non-EU country and the EU, increasing the overall budget of the programme. Associated country status in the current programme 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 fulfill certain criteria and countries or territories associated to the previous framework programme (FP7).
So far, 16 countries have concluded an agreement to be an associated country within Horizon 2020:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Faroe Islands
- North Macedonia