Research & Innovation

The EU and its member states have been actively investing in research and innovation for many decades, with an increasing focus on international collaboration. The EU's vision and strategy is set out in the 2012 European Commission Communication Enhancing and Focusing EU International Cooperation in Research and Innovation: a Strategic Approach .

Implementation of the strategy is supported by the Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation (SFIC), an advisory body to the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission.

At a more operational level, the EU research framework programmes are open to participation by researchers, by research organizations and by business innovators in non-EU countries. Throughout the new Horizon 2020 programme (2014-2020), the Commission will identify opportunities for international cooperation and develop the multiannual roadmaps that will be implemented through work programmes.

The strategy is subject to robust steering, monitoring and evaluation, particularly in relation to the international cooperation aspects of Horizon 2020, to ensure coherent implementation across the programme. The Commission will track progress using a set of indicators and report every two years.

Cooperation with international partner countries is essential if the EU is to address many of Horizon 2020's objectives effectively. This is the case in particular for the societal challenges addressed by the new programme, which need to be tackled at the global level.

International cooperation is also indispensable to frontier and basic research, enabling European researchers to reap the benefits from emerging science and technology opportunities.

Promoting the international mobility of researchers and innovation staff is crucial for enhancing this global cooperation. And activities at international level are equally important for boosting the competitiveness of European industry. They promote the take-up and trade of novel technologies, for instance through the development of worldwide standards and guidelines, and promote acceptance and deployment of European solutions outside of Europe.

Horizon 2020 is continuing the principle of general openness, while encouraging reciprocal access to third country programmes. In addition, a range of targeted actions take a strategic approach to international cooperation on the basis of common interest, offering mutual benefit and promoting coordination and synergies with EU member state activities.

Horizon 2020 is not the only source of EU funding for research and innovation. The Council of the EU has allocated €6.3 billion for Galileo, Europe's navigation satellite system, €2.7 billion to the experimental nuclear fusion reactor ITER, and €3.8 billion to Copernicus, the EU's programme to establish a system of Earth-observation satellites. In addition, coordination and funding of European research is also ensured through COST ("European Cooperation in Science and Technology" – an intergovernmental framework allowing the coordination of national research) and Eureka (an organisation which aims to become the leading funding platform for R&D-performing entrepreneurs in Europe and beyond)."

More on the EU's international strategy for research and innovation