Feedback to the renewal of the EU’s international cooperation strategy (EU Global Approach)

The European Commission scheduled to renew its international cooperation strategy (Global Approach to Research, Innovation, Education and Youth) to replace the 2012 version. This was mentioned also during our final conference by Commissioner Gabriel and in the discussions on the roundtable by Adam Tyson (DG RTD). The EC provided a roadmap on the strategy development to inform citizens and stakeholders in which they informed that “[i]n the light of geopolitical changes, the COVID-19 crisis and the Recovery Plan, Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation must be refocussed” – this shall take into account the way in which global powers and partners interact, any “potential erosion and fragmentation of the global order” and “threats to the EU’s technological and industrial autonomy” while at the same time there is “a strong and urgent case for strengthened multilateralism and cooperation with like-minded countries to tackle global challenges“. S4D4C agrees in particular with the latter. See for this roadmap.

Europe’s prosperity and the well-being of its citizens depends on our capacity to develop and implement sustainable responses to global environmental, economic and social challenges, to protect citizens’ health and to deliver the green and digital transitions. Europe cannot do this on its own: developing and implementing solutions requires the joined efforts of the best scientific and entrepreneurial minds from around the world.

In the roadmap, several regions are highlighted as opportunities to strengthen partnerships (e.g. the Western Balkans and the EU Neighbourhood those close to Europe as well as regions further afield, including Africa).

Cooperation in research and innovation must promote Europe’s open strategic autonomy, respect shared values and ethical standards to avoid a race to the bottom, and increase the degree of reciprocity and level playing fields between Europe and its partners.

As outlined in the document which informs about the roadmap, the new strategy will be delivered at different levels:

  • by the EU, through its participation in multilateral research and innovation platforms dedicated to global challenges on climate, the environment, renewable energies, health, etc.; through EU bilateral agreements with key partner countries, including association agreements; through the Horizon Europe, Erasmus+ and the European Solidarity Corps programmes;
  • by the EU Member States in their own policy initiatives and funding programmes;
  • and by international partners.

It is further outlined that the new international strategy is an opportunity to:

  • Rebalance the EU’s global approach to research and innovation to adapt it to geopolitical changes and the promotion of European interests, including its open strategic autonomy, based on a level playing field and greater reciprocity in access to research, innovation and education programmes;
  • Reflect and project internationally the Commission’s green, digital and health related priorities;
  • Reinforce EU values globally by launching a multilateral dialogue on global principles for open and fair international cooperation, in close cooperation with the Member States under the European Research Area and the Bologna Process;
  • Maintain an open and multilateral approach to cooperation, to respond to shared challenges. Pooling global efforts, the Commission can use its political influence and its financial capacities to foster partnerships/cooperation to deliver new solutions to green, digital and health challenges;
  • Enhance complementarity with international cooperation in education and youth to support the attainment of the Union’s overall objectives.
Between 12 March 2021 and 09 April 2021, stakeholders could send input – and 39 did. We also used the opportunity to share with the EC in a consolidated form:
  • the lessons learned and recommendations collected by the three EU-funded projects on science diplomacy as presented during the S4D4C conference (see here for the source)
  • the project’s relevant policy briefs prepared.

Please find the input submitted by the S4D4C coordinator ( and for download here:

Feedback on the EU global approach

We would like to also highlight that some of the publicly available contributions by other stakeholders included references to science diplomacy and even S4D4C (which made us a bit proud):

The Aurora University Network for example has provided its advice for the new Global Approach to research, innovation, education and youth in eight recommendations. This includes extending interoperability of information systems in higher education globally, finding a new balance between EU and UK to secure the established collaborations on R&I and education, using higher education institutes to foster democratic culture and practices through more interaction on education and research, and providing sustainable support for European Universities Alliances serving as linking pin between research, innovation, all levels of education and skilling, and the wider society. Looking at those and other comments, we see some foci on geographical regions (e.g. Africa), some on stakeholder groups (e.g. university networks or associations, mobile researchers or displaced scholars), some on thematic priorities (e.g. health research). Inputs were submitted by individual universities and research institutes (e.g. from Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, France, etc.), associations (e.g. the Marie Curie Alumni) and businesses and their networks (e.g. TP Organics) as well as from EU-funded projects (such as S4D4C but also GENDERACTION or Inspireurope) as well as from individual researchers. Science diplomacy is featured in some of them, e.g. the input from the Aurora University Network, Karolinska University, APRE or CESAER.

Please see the 39 contributions sent in and made publicly available by stakeholders:

S4D4C Team

Posted by S4D4C Team