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

4.4.4 From Vision to Implementation: the EU Science Diplomacy State-of-the-Art

In this topic, we will try to give you an overview of the current practical development of science diplomacy in the European Union. As you know, the EU is a complex multi-governance, supranational structure that adds diversity yet complexity to its policies. It is impossible to understand EU science diplomacy without understanding the role of member states. However, this topic will focus mainly on the EU level and its interactions and the bi-directional impact in/from member states science diplomacy strategies. You will be able to find some relevant EU Member States science diplomacy strategies in Module 5. What Are the National, Regional and Thematic Approaches of Science Diplomacy?.

Science, foreign affairs and science diplomacy policies at the EU: different multi governance frameworks

Policy coordination in the EU ranges from strong integration on a supranational level to purely intergovernmental approaches. According to Rüffin (2019), both science and foreign policies could be understood as stable multilevel governance approaches at the EU level (with the EU, member states, and regions having their own competences) with clear defined responsibilities and jurisdictions.

As for science policy, the European Commission has taken the lead in a number of very important issues such as significantly boosting the 7th Research and Development Framework programme budget, launching the European Research Council or establishing coordination mechanisms with Member States. However, member states still hold authority when it comes to their own research and innovation programmes.

In the same fashion, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (a figure acting as the EU’s Commissioner for Foreign Affairs) and the European External Action Service, both created in the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009, do not replace or rule national foreign offices and services. Again, the functioning of the service, with most staff being temporarily assigned from national foreign ministries, and some officers recruited from the Commission’s administration, illustrate the multilevel governance framework of the EU. Sometimes, this coexistence of member states’ and EU’s foreign policy has been criticised because of European diplomacy only attending topics of lesser importance or delicacy (Rüffin 2019).

Because of science diplomacy being at the intersection of science and foreign policies, there is general agreement that it has to be seen as a shared responsibility among the EU and Member States (Van Langenhove 2017). However, according to Rüffin (2019), EU science diplomacy would not fit into the scheme of clearly delineated, defined, jurisdictions (as it is the case for science and foreign policy). This means European science diplomacy would touch upon a number of jurisdictions, including all communities who aim at using the term for their own purposes. In other words, science diplomacy would be better understood as a fluid concept that needs to be amended according to individual cases (Flink and Rungius 2018)

It is in this context where EU Science Diplomacy needs to find its place and much research and collective reflection is being done in order to try to come up with a coherent strategy for the EU.

What the experts think

We have chosen some videos from a number of experts to give us some different insights about the question “What’s your view about European Science Diplomacy?” Their explanations will help establish the foundations on which we will build up your knowledge.


Angela Liberatore

Head of Unit on Social Sciences and Humanities, European Research Council Executive Agency

What is your vision of the European science diplomacy?


Leonard Laborie

Research Fellow, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique(CNRS), and Deputy Coordinator for the H2020-funded consortium “Inventing a shared science diplomacy for Europe (InsSciDe)“

In which way can European science diplomacy contribute to the prosperity of Europe?


Elke Dall

Senior Researcher and Project Manager, Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) and Project Coordinator for the H2020-funded consortium “Using science for/in diplomacy for addressing global challenges (S4D4C)”

What is your vision for the European science diplomacy?

Read more!
– Flink, Tim; and Rungius, Charlotte (2018): Science Diplomacy in the European Union: Practices and Prospects. S4D4C Policy Brief #1 October 2018. S4D4C: Vienna (Link)
– Rüffin, Nicolas (2019): “EU Science Diplomacy in a Contested Space of Multi-Level Governance. Ambitions, Constraints and Options for Action”. Research Policy, advance access, 27.08.2019, (Link)
– van Langenhove, Luk (2017): Tools for an EU Science Diplomacy. European Commission – Directorate General for Research and Innovation. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. doi:10.2777/911223 (Link)

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