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Science cooperation is a fantastic way to developing links of all kinds (human, political, business oriented…), and maintaining them when other kinds of direct relations are difficult (cf. Iran). Scientific exchanges create opportunities to raise awareness among the scientific community in third countries on EU values, visions and priorities. The SESAME programme, which unites researchers from the whole Middle East on a “third-generation” synchrotron light source based in Jordan, is exemplary evidence that Science Diplomacy is a way to make diplomacy through "parallel means".
It is thus everything but solely a mean to increase the quality of our Research. This is acknowledged with Horizon 2020, but still need to be mainstreamed. EEAS closely works with the Commission in order to enhance this external dimension of science and research policies, and develop a genuine and ambitious science diplomacy. International science cooperation strengthens Union's excellence and attentiveness in research and innovation as well as its economics and industrial competitiveness. It allows better tackling global societal challenges as international cooperation allows developing multiannual roadmaps for cooperation with key partner countries and regions such as EFTA countries, EU enlargement countries and countries covered by the European Neighbourhood policy in targeted areas.
Science Diplomacy of course builds on Horizon 2020, which is an impressive research & innovation programme worth about €80 billion over 2014-2020. It induces a significant external dimension, which is derived from the commitments made under the Innovation Union , the European Research Area (ERA) Framework and the recommendations of the interim evaluation of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Based on these documents, and on the analysis that the Union has to adapt to a rapidly globalising environment, the Commission proposed in 2012 a strategic approach to enhance and focus the Union's international cooperation activities in research and innovation, with a view to mainstream International cooperation across the whole programme.
COM (2012) 497 specifically states that "Science diplomacy' will use international cooperation in research and innovation as an instrument of soft power and a mechanism for improving relations with key countries and regions. Good international relations may, in turn, facilitate effective cooperation in research and innovation.
More recently, COM(2014) 339 final on 'Research and innovation as a source of renewed growth' stressed that " further efforts need to be made in (…) addressing the external dimension of R&I policy" if we want to fully take advantage of this potential.
Strengthening the EU's global position in research, innovation and technology, passes through proactive international cooperation. It specifically aims at developing a common 'Knowledge and Innovation Space' in the EU Neighbourhood, and developing Science and Technology agreements with some more strategic partners (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Korea, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, USA…). But there are also Policy dialogue and platforms on STI cooperation at regional level (Africa, ASEAN, Central Asia, Gulf, LAC, Pacific). And STI supports development policy by enhancing human potential and infrastructures, designing new services and products, or providing evidence both on cross-cutting issues (such as poverty eradication) and sector-specific actions.