What is the new EU global approach to research and innovation

The Global Approach to Research and Innovation (R&I) presents the Commission’s perspective for Europe’s strategy on international cooperation in research and innovation.

With this new strategy, the EU should take a leading role in supporting international research and innovation partnerships and in delivering innovative solutions to green, digital, health and innovation challenges.

The strategy includes key objectives that aim to enhance the EU’s leading role on research and innovation in the world, notably through modulating cooperation with key international partners based on EU commitment to international openness and fundamental values.

The strategy also includes a series of specific key actions, to develop in synergies with Member States, such as working with international partners to develop common principles on research and innovation and strengthening the partnership with Africa, that aim to contribute in reaching its objectives.

Why is the Commission presenting this Communication?

The world needs to step up its global cooperation at a scale never seen before in order to deliver solutions to today’s urgent challenges, such as climate change and pandemics.

Moreover, in today’s transformed global landscape, researchers and citizens need a clear framework on issues such as academic freedom, ethical and human-centred research, the fair treatment of intellectual property and reciprocal access to research programmes.

In this context, Europe needs to coordinate its efforts, acting as a united voice in international fora in order to maximize its impact and strengthen its leading role. The Commission presents this strategy to coordinate multilateral research and innovation initiatives as the most effective way to tackle the challenges facing our world.

What are the main novelties of the EU global approach to research and innovation?

The global approach to research and innovation supersedes the previous EU strategy that dates from 2012, in order to respond to today’s significantly different global context and to align the EU’s international cooperation with its current political priorities.

In particular, it raises the need for Europe to scale up its partnerships at multilateral level to tackle today’s urgent global challenges, such as climate change and health crises and to deliver on the green and digital transitions.

It also calls for the EU to rebalance its cooperation with other countries with more reciprocity and ensuring a level playing field at international level.

The global approach sets out a series of concrete actions that should contribute in delivering its objectives. These include:

  • Promoting principles for international cooperation in research and innovation with international partners in areas such as academic freedom, research ethics and gender equality.
  • Developing guidelines dealing with foreign interference that targets European universities and research organisations.
  • Jointly developing roadmaps with key non-EU country partners with a strong research and innovation base, to reach a level playing field and reciprocity in research and innovation cooperation.
  • Scaling up cooperation with key partner countries and regions such as Africa, to accelerate sustainable and inclusive development and the transition to knowledge-based societies and economies.

What is the ‘Team Europe’ approach?

The ‘Team Europe’ approach combines resources from the EU, its Member States, and the European financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Pooling resources together will enable us to achieve greater impact.

How can the EU promote common principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation?

When acting together, the EU and its Member States can be effective in leading international strategies and shaping global agendas. In coordination with Member States in the ERA Forum for Transition, the EU should develop principles for international cooperation in research and innovation, and then use its collective influence to promote these principles in a multilateral dialogue with partner countries and international fora.

What does the Global Approach to research and innovation say about Europe’s cooperation with other countries?

The new strategy calls for enhancing international cooperation within multilateral partnerships in areas related to global challenges, such as climate change and pandemics, in order to leverage investments and coordinate policies and programmes at global scale.

The EU also seeks to strengthen bilateral cooperation to enhance knowledge and pool resources, especially in areas of EU interest. To this end, the EU will modulate its cooperation with other countries, taking into account the need for reciprocity, ensuring a level playing field, and the respect for fundamental rights and shared values.

The Commission, on behalf of the EU, intends to negotiate targeted bilateral roadmaps with non-EU countries with a strong research and innovation base, setting out joint commitments to implement framework conditions for cooperation.

As a key part of the global approach to research and innovation, the EU should also develop initiatives to support researchers and their organisations to accelerate sustainable and inclusive development in low and middle-income countries, such as the ‘Africa initiative’ under Horizon Europe to strengthen cooperation with African countries.

What does the new strategy mean for international cooperation in Horizon Europe?

The global approach to research and innovation will underpin the international dimension of Horizon Europe.

Reaffirming the EU’s commitment to global openness, Horizon Europe, in continuity with its predecessor, Horizon 2020, will remain open to the participation of researchers and innovators from all over the world, including through a significant number of calls for proposals relevant for international cooperation.

The Horizon Europe programme is the largest public-funded programme in research and innovation internationally and will remain open as a rule.  In exceptional and duly justified cases, where needed to safeguard the EU’s strategic assets, interests, autonomy or security, Horizon Europe may limit participation in certain of its actions. Any limitations will always be applied in accordance with the procedure set out by EU legislation, while at the same time respecting the EU’s commitments under bilateral international agreements.

The association of non-EU countries to Horizon Europe will offer additional opportunities to participate to the overall programme with generally the same conditions as those of the Member States. A key novelty in Horizon Europe, association will be offered also to countries located anywhere in the world that share European values and have a strong science, technology and innovation profile.

For More Information

Communication on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation

Press release: Europe’s global approach to cooperation in research and innovation: strategic, open, and reciprocal

Factsheet: Global Approach to Research and Innovation

International cooperation in research and innovation