S&T Relations – Agreements and Framework Programmes


The EU-China scientific, research and innovation cooperation is governed by the following agreements:

The EU-China Science & Technology Agreement was signed in December 1998. An annual joint steering committee is held between the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and European Commission's DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD). The S&T Agreement was renewed in 2004, 2009 and 2014.

EURATOM-China Agreement for R&D Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (R&D-PUNE Agreement) was signed in April 2008. It is implemented by a joint steering committee co-chaired by the DG Research and Innovation representing EURATOM and MoST.

MoST and DG Research and Innovation signed the Agreement on Implementing the Science & Technology Partnership Scheme (CESTYS) in May 2009. This agreement provides for joint co-decided, co-selected and co-funded research projects in common priority areas.

A Joint Statement between MoST and DG Research and Innovation on Energy Research and Innovation was signed in December 2010. It aims to support the twinning of projects, joint programmes or joint calls based on mutual interest and equal partnership.

The National Natural Sciences Foundation of China (NSFC) and DG Research and Innovation signed an Administrative Arrangement in March 2010. It provides a framework for coordinated research projects in areas of common interest.

The EU-China Joint Declaration on Innovation Cooperation Dialogue (ICD) was signed in September 2012 to create an official platform for exchanges and cooperation on innovation between both sides.

A Letter of Intent on Research and Innovation Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnologies (FAB) between the European Commission and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) was signed in November 2013 launching the first EU-China flagship initiative for research and innovation in the areas of food, agriculture and biotechnologies.

An Implementing Arrangement between the DG Research and Innovation/European Research Council (ERC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was signed in June 2015. The arrangement will facilitate short- and medium-term research visits of Chinese researchers holding a NSFC grant in the teams of ERC funded principal investigators in Europe.

Framework Programmes – the EU's main instrument for research and innovation collaboration

EU-China S&T cooperation started in the early 1980s, through the European Commission's Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. The 6th Framework Programme (FP6, 2002-2006) supported 214 research projects involving Chinese teams.

The 7th Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013) was furthering this successful cooperation, both through an overall openness to international cooperation and targeted actions with Chinese participation. The majority of EU-China scientific co-operation that took place through FP7 involved almost all thematic priority areas (e.g. space, ICT, health, transport, etc.). As of March 2015, statistics counted 383 participations of Chinese entities in 274 FP7 signed grant agreements, receiving a total EU contribution of 35.24 million euros. Over 880 Chinese researchers participated in the Marie Curie Actions. China ranked third among all countries in terms of volume of international collaboration, after the US and Russia. The Chinese applicant success rate of 27% is higher than the average third country success rate. Check out our success stories from FP7 involving Chinese participants pdf - 2 MB [2 MB] !


The currently running Framework Programme "Horizon 2020" offers plenty of opportunities for the EU and China to collaborate. Collaboration can take place either through the general opening which makes all Horizon 2020 areas and programmes Open to the World – or through targeted actions with strategic international partner countries, like China. Visit the Horizon 2020 chapter for more information.

Statistics until February 2016 counted the involvement of more than 116 participations of Chinese entities in 49 Horizon 2020 projects. China ranks currently among the top 3 international partners in terms of numbers of participations. Excellent prospects to even closer cooperation exist thanks to the Co-funding Mechanism launched by the Ministry of Science and Technology end of 2015.

R&D cooperation with China is also taking place on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy both on fusion and fission energy. EURATOM and China are working together on the implementation of the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) project and developing a strategic partnership on fusion research in support to ITER and DEMO (Demonstration Power Plant) with around 95 bilateral on-going fusion activities involving 15 European and 16 Chinese entities. With regard to bilateral fission research cooperation, the Chinese Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) and EU identified areas of mutual interest related to reactor safety, radioactive waste management and radiation protection research and on this basis both sides launched and implemented several parallel projects.

China’s new advanced position in many areas of science means that joint strategic cooperation has the potential to be based on common interest, through principles of co-decision to launch projects in areas high on the agendas of both China and the EU, co-selection of balanced groups of European and Chinese research teams and finally, co-funding of projects. At the same time, the Chinese authorities show their willingness to open Chinese research programmes to European participation.

Participation in China's National S&T Programmes

The Chinese national R&D funding programmes are in principle open to EU partners, as part of the EU-China S&T agreement. China is currently undergoing an ambitious reform of its R&D funding programmes and institutional setup. The reform combined with an increased national budget for research and innovation aims to fully unleash China's innovation-driven development strategy. The new National Key R&D Programmes, that are replacing the previous 863, 973 and other ministerial programmes, as well as the Major S&T Special Projects (so-called Mega Projects) are expected to offer more opportunities for European entities to collaborate with their Chinese partners and to benefit from the national R&D funding resources.

At the 12th EU China Joint Steering Committee on S&T Co-operation in October 2015, a roadmap for improving reciprocal access to R&D funding programmes has been agreed between DG Research and Innovation and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.

More opportunities for international cooperation are offered by various national level institutions including the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) or the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), as well as provincial or municipal-level institutions. The international cooperation offices in universities and institutions can be very helpful for establishing contacts. Other useful contacts are the Science and Technology Commissions and Departments in each Chinese province and in larger Chinese cities.

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