European Commission Adopts New International R&I Cooperation Strategy

Strategy aims to promote an open innovation environment based on rules and values, while ensuring reciprocity and a level playing field in international cooperation.

The European Commission has adopted an EU Communication titled: ‘the Global Approach to Research and Innovation – Europe’s strategy for international cooperation in a changing world’. The plan is designed to ensure that the EU takes a leading role in supporting international research and innovation partnerships, thereby helping to deliver innovative solutions to make societies green, digital and healthy.

The communication is the EU’s first international R&D strategy since 2012, which underpinned the Union’s scientific and technological relationships with third countries and shaped the international approach of Horizon 2020.

The new strategy aims to ensure that the EU continues to attract and work with the world’s best talent within a changing global landscape, when geopolitical tensions are rising and fundamental values and human rights are increasingly challenged. The EU will face these challenges by ‘leading by example’, promoting multilateralism, openness and reciprocity in its cooperation with the rest of the world.

The strategy underlines the EU’s commitment to facilitating global responses to global challenges, such as climate change or pandemics, respecting international rules and fundamental EU values and strengthening its open strategic autonomy. The EU will work with international partners to create a common understanding of fundamental principles and values in research and innovation, such as academic freedom, gender equality, research ethics, open science and evidence-based policymaking.

The strategy builds on two principal, complementary objectives:

  • A research and innovation environment that is based on rules and values, and is open by default, helping researchers and innovators around the world work together in multilateral partnerships and find solutions to global challenges
  • Ensuring reciprocity and a level-playing field in international cooperation in research and innovation

The EU will initiate a number of actions in support of its strategy, such as supporting researchers and their organisations to help accelerate sustainable and inclusive development in low and middle-income countries, including through an ambitious ‘Africa initiative’ under Horizon Europe, to strengthen cooperation with African countries. The Commission also intends to present guidelines on dealing with foreign interference targeting EU research organisations and higher education institutions to support EU organisations in safeguarding academic freedom, integrity and institutional autonomy.

Horizon Europe, the EU’s new research and innovation framework programme covering 2021-2027, will be a key instrument for the implementation of the strategy. While Horizon Europe will remain open as a rule, the programme may exceptionally limit participation in its actions on duly justified cases in order to safeguard the EU’s strategic assets, interests, autonomy or security.

The success of the strategy will rest on coordination and cooperation between the EU and its Member States. The Commission will promote initiatives modelled on a ‘Team Europe‘ approach, combining the efforts of the EU, the Member States and European financial institutions. Synergies with other EU programmes such as the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe will be an important element of this approach.