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Policy Framework

Fostering international cooperation in research and innovation is a strategic priority for the European Union, as it allows:

- Access to the latest knowledge and the best talent worldwide.

- To tackle global societal challenges more effectively.

- To create business opportunities in new and emerging markets.

- To use science diplomacy as an influential instrument of external policy.


In 2012, the Commission adopted a Communication entitled "Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: a strategic approach". The Communication sets out a new strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, in particular with a view to implementing Horizon 2020. The Communication is accompanied by a Staff Working Document providing further background information and analysis.


Horizon 2020 is fully open to participants from across the world and with many topics specifically targeting international cooperation. Cooperation takes place in research and innovation projects, networking between projects, joint or coordinated calls and specific joint initiatives.


The European Commission is leading the way in many global research partnerships. Very often research and innovation to tackle societal challenges in areas like health, food, energy and water is best implemented through global multilateral initiatives where solutions can be developed and deployed more effectively. These multilateral initiatives are important to address EU commitments to international objectives like the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, COP21 or the WHO Resolutions, to reduce the global burden and pool resources for better results with greater impact.


Knowledge and technology should also circulate as freely as possible in a "Global Research Area". In order to enable researchers to work together smoothly across borders, e.g. on large-scale common challenges, the European Commission is working to address obstacles to efficient international cooperation by ensuring fair and equitable framework conditions. This includes issues such as reciprocal access to programmes, mechanisms for co-funding, mutual access to resources and efficient and fair intellectual property rights systems.


To do so, the European Union concluded 20 Science & Technology (S&T) agreements and maintains several policy dialogues with countries and regions across the globe. These agreements constitute a framework and a privileged forum to identify common interests, priorities, policy dialogue, and the necessary tools for S&T collaboration.


Science and Technology can be instrumental in influencing and improving international relations and stability, opening channels of communication and building trust. Internationally agreed solid scientific advice and technical information is also essential for anticipating needs and events and for making informed, forward-looking policy decisions.

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