1. How to Get Started?
2. What Is Science Diplomacy?
3. Who Are the Science Diplomacy Stakeholders?
4. How Does the EU Practice Science Diplomacy?
5. What Are the National, Regional and Thematic Approaches of Science Diplomacy?
6. What Set of Skills Do I Need to Be a Good Science Diplomat?
7. Hands On! Case Studies
8. How Can You Dive Deeper into Science Diplomacy?
Satisfaction Survey

4.3.4 European Scientific Collaborations with the World

The EU is a major player in the international science and innovation arena, and leads many areas such as renewable energy and environmental protection. The EU accounts for almost a quarter of global science and technology production in the world.

In 2003, the EU produced one-third of the world’s paper, but in 2018 that proportion is one quarter (more weight for emerging countries like China) (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Scientific production in the world and in the EU15.
Source: Van Noorden and Butler 2019

In an emblematic declaration in 2015, Carlos Moedas, Research and Innovation Commissioner at that time, set three goals for EU research and innovation policy: Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World.

We need to be Open to the World! Europe is a global leader in science, and this should translate into a leading voice in global debates. To remain relevant and competitive, we need to engage more in science diplomacy and global scientific collaboration. It is not sufficient to only support collaborative projects; we need to enable partnerships between regions and countries. Challenges in areas like energy, health, food and water are global challenges. And Europe should be leading the way in developing global research partnerships to address these challenges.

Commissioner Carlos Moedas
“A new start for Europe: Opening to an ERA of Innovation”
Brussels, 22 June 2015

The main priority of the last international S&T cooperation strategy (from 2012) was to foster international cooperation in research and innovation for the European Union. This connection with so-called ith third countries (neither member states nor associated with a research framework programme) allows:

  • to 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, and
  • to use science diplomacy as an influential instrument of external policy

“Making Europe stronger in the world” is also one of the six priorities of the European Commissioner in charge of Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel. An update to the international cooperation strategy was presented as part of the European Commission communication on a “Global approach to research and innovation – Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in a changing world”.

The communication acknowledges the relevance of international cooperation for the research and innovation systems of the EU and its Member States as well as Europe’s intention to keep a leading position in International R&I cooperation, consistent with/aligned with Europe’s priority principles, values and interests. The European Commission has stated the following four key messages regarding the Communication:

1. The continuing spirit of openness while at the same time focusing on safeguarding European interests.

2. Research and innovation are tools to promote European values and reciprocity and a levelplaying field with international partners are pre-conditions for a successful cooperation

3. An increased focus on rules-based multilateralism and global partnerships along the key EU priorities green transition, digitalisation and health.

4. A modulated, tailor-made approach to the cooperation with different countries and world regions, based on three categories (industrialised countries and emerging economies; developing countries; countries in the neighbourhood)

This new international cooperation strategic approach should also stimulate member states and the EU to ensure responsible global leadership to advance EU values and promote and protect Europe’s contribution to solving societal and global challenges. Science Diplomacy in this context plays a key role in addressing complex transnational matters.

In recent years, the EU has signed several international agreements for scientific and technological cooperation with different governments and states including Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States. You may see the list of countries that have an international agreement with the EU on science and technology, the entry and renewal dates, in this link.

These agreements establish a formal framework for cooperation, and aim to encourage, develop and facilitate activities in the areas of science and technology of the EU and the signing country.

The EU is also participating in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA, http://prima-med.org/), an initiative involving a number of EU countries as well as several countries in the Mediterranean area to build research and innovation capacities and develop knowledge and joint innovative solutions for agro-food and water systems.

What the experts think

You may learn from the following science diplomacy expert how the EU collaborates with other regions in the world.

Martina Hartl

Deputy Head of Unit for International Research Cooperation, Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Austria; and Member of the Strategic Forum for International Research Cooperation (SFIC)

How does Europe collaborate with the other regions in the world?

Read more!
– Moedas, Carlos (2015): A new start for Europe: Opening up to an ERA of Innovation. Brussels, 22 June 2015 (Link)
– Van Noorden, Richard, and Declan Butler (2019): “Science in Europe: by the numbers.” Nature, 569, 23 May, 470-471 (Link)


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