21 September 2012 | General
Europe's strategy for developing international cooperation in research and innovation

Earlier this week the European Commission has announced a strategy to further focus cooperation on EU strategic priorities, while maintaining the tradition of openness to third country participation in EU research. COST is working in this direction, and opens pan-European cooperation worldwide.

How international is EU research?

EU research programmes are open to participation from across the globe. One fifth of EU research projects already involve at least one partner from outside the EU. Currently, 6% of participants in the Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) come from third countries. 

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, that fund mobility and training for researchers, support participants from 80 different countries. The European Research Council (ERC), which funds researchers from anywhere in the world to do cutting-edge research in Europe, has begun a campaign to attract more participants from third countries.

The Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), also maintains close research links to organisations around the world.

A new strategy

The new strategy will be mainly implemented through Horizon 2020, the EU's funding programme for research and innovation from 2014, as well as through joint initiatives with EU Member States.

The strategy will follow a dual approach. Through the general opening up of Horizon 2020 to international cooperation, European researchers will be free to cooperate with their third country counterparts on topics of their own choice. 

COST: science and technology cooperation across Europe and beyond

For over the past 40 years, COST has been underpinning and promoting cooperation in science and technology, bringing together researchers from 36 countries in a truly pan-European networking programme. COST does not stop at Europe’s borders, however. The programme is open to global cooperation, reinforcing the need for international cooperation that the Commission is highlighting through its new strategy. Researchers from non-COST country institutions can participate in COST Actions on the basis of mutual benefit.

In particular, COST has a strategy to support and encourage participation of Near Neighbour Countries in COST’s science and Technology networks. These countries include:

  • Albania,
  • Algeria,
  • Armenia,
  • Azerbaijan,
  • Belarus,
  • Egypt,
  • Georgia,
  • Jordan,
  • Lebanon,
  • Libya,
  • Moldova,
  • Montenegro,
  • Morocco,
  • the Palestinian Authority,
  • Russia,
  • Syria,
  • Tunisia,
  • Ukraine.

In addition, COST holds reciprocal agreements with Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa for their institutions to participate in COST Actions.

COST is currently working on an international strategy that will cover the programming period 2014-2020. This will be marked by an open dialogue with the Commission, in the framework of its new strategy and of the Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC).


Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science

Going it alone is not an option in research and innovation. It is critical that Europe reaches out to international partners to access new sources of knowledge and address global challenges. Horizon 2020 will, like its predecessors, be open to participation from across the globe. Openness ensures mutually beneficial cooperation with our key international partners, assists developing countries and helps Europe access new and emerging markets.

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