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Research cooperation with developing countries

The European Commission has adopted a communication on cooperation with developing countries in the field of science and technology. The communication underlines the fact that cooperation in science and technology is a strategic part of the EU's development cooperation policie...
The European Commission has adopted a communication on cooperation with developing countries in the field of science and technology. The communication underlines the fact that cooperation in science and technology is a strategic part of the EU's development cooperation policies.

The communication follows an overall communication on international cooperation in research and development, adopted in 1995. In the light of this, the Commission undertook to produce specific communications on cooperation with target groups of countries.

The challenges facing developing countries are outlined in the communication: the problems of society; the countries' capacity to improve standards of living; and their ability to seize new opportunities arising from the globalization of trade. The communication then analyses the state of RTD infrastructures in the developing countries. In particular, it suggests that investment in RTD is insufficient and that there is not enough capacity to tackle the wide range of problems which exist.

The Commission draws lessons from past initiatives and policies, both from Europe and within the developing countries themselves, before outlining its proposed strategy for future cooperation. The new strategy should be based on the principles of partnership, differentiation of needs, and an integrated approach to solving specific problems. Furthermore, the new strategy will involve coordinated action on three fronts, at institutional level, in the countries' research capacity, and in cooperation with outside entities. Action will be required from the public authorities in the developing countries, from European donors, and from the private sector.

At Community level, two separate instruments need to be used in a coordinated manner. These are the EU's financial instruments for third countries - particularly the Lomé Convention, the MEDA programme and the ALA Latin American assistance fund - and the Community's RTD Framework Programme. RTD must play a bigger role overall in the EU's cooperation with developing countries, while scientific and technological cooperation must be consolidated and diversified. The Commission notes that greater coordination between Community policies must be ensured, whilst Community action must also complement the Member States' activities.

The communication outlines a number of priority areas for cooperation:

- Management of natural resources and agriculture, fisheries and agro-industry;
- Health;
- Demography and population issues linked to urbanization;
- Energy;
- Information and communications technologies.

The Commission wishes to stimulate debate in the context of the preparation of the Fifth RTD Framework Programme and the recently published Green Paper on the future of relations with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states. It underlines that RTD cooperation must be seen as part of the wider development cooperation strategy of the Union, and also notes the importance of partnership with the developing countries in evolving cooperation strategies.

Source: European Commission, General Secretariat

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