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EU - Australia Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee

The third meeting of the EU-Australia Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC), established under the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement between Australia and the European Community (EC), was held, in Brussels, on 1 July 1997. Mr. Malcolm Farr...
The third meeting of the EU-Australia Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee (JSTCC), established under the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement between Australia and the European Community (EC), was held, in Brussels, on 1 July 1997. Mr. Malcolm Farrow, Acting Deputy Secretary at the Department of Industry, Science and Tourism, led the Australian delegation. The European Commission (EC) delegation was led by Prof. Jorma Routti, Director-General for Science, Research and Development (DG XII).

The EC-Australia S&T Agreement, the first of its kind between the European Community and an industrialized country outside Europe, came into force in July 1994. The third JSTCC meeting therefore marked the three-year milestone of the Agreement and provided an excellent opportunity for assessing its impact so far.

A substantial level of cooperative activity has been established under the Agreement, as evidenced by the increasing number of researchers engaging in joint projects. Two-thirds of potential projects involve new collaborations. At the same time, linkages between European and Australian programmes have been greatly strengthened. Collaboration now covers all the fields of the agreement, namely: Information Technologies (ESPRIT), Communication Technologies (ACTS), Environment and Climate, Biotechnology (BIOTECH), Biomedicine and Health (BIOMED), and Marine Science and Technology (MAST).

Since the JSTCC last met in October 1995, the number of collaborative projects has more than trebled, from eight to 26. The new projects include eight in Biomedicine and Health, two in Biotechnology, one in Communication Technologies, two in Marine Science and Technology, one in Environment and Climate and four in Information Technologies. A few more could be added before the end of the year. Among these, four projects in the field of Information Technologies cover the "Technologies for Business Processes" sector and are the fruit of a joint initiative launched in late 1995.

European participation in Australian R&D programmes is also steadily increasing: the Australian Research Council reports that 40% of international projects involve European partners and the overwhelming majority of Australia's Cooperative Research Centres have links with European companies and institutions. Europe's share in Australia's international publications has risen to 27%.

Having acknowledged the mutual benefits of the Agreement so far, the two delegations also examined the prospects for their long-term cooperation. In view of Australia's stated wish to extend the scope of the Agreement, and the European Community's preparations for the Fifth Framework Programme for RTD, both sides reiterated their intention to see the collaboration enhanced and reinforced. The JSTCC noted the steps required to amend the Agreement and their timing in relation to the adoption of the Fifth Framework Programme, and recommended to commence such steps as soon as the structure of the Fifth Framework Programme is confirmed.

The two delegations agreed to hold the next meeting of the JSTCC, in Australia, before the end of 1998.

Source: European Commission, DG XII

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