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Policy Context

EU development policy legislation has generally advocated for international cooperation with developing countries in areas such as security, democratic governance and human rights, trade and regional integration as well as scientific and technological development. The 2013 Communication (COM(2013)92 final) on “A decent life for all: Ending poverty and giving the world a sustainable future” depicted the EU’s future development strategy through frameworks and partnerships (e.g. the Africa-EU Joint Strategy). This communication concentrated contemporary EU development policy on poverty reduction and sustainable development in partner states in the context of achieving the UN 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). 

The major legislative acts in place prioritising the MDG’s within Europe’s consensus on development include  the Commission’s April 2010 Twelve-Point EU Action Plan and its 2010 Communication (COM(2009) 458 final) on “Policy Coherence for Development Work Programme 2010-2013.” The EU has already adopted a timetable for achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Within this timeframe, the annual EU aid was doubled by 2010 to over EUR 66 billion. To this day, this funding is directed to the least-developed countries in addition to low and medium-income countries. Half of this budget increase is expected to be allocated to development aid in Africa specifically to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger; to achieve universal primary education; to promote gender equality and empower women; to reduce child mortality; to improve maternal health; to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; to ensure environmental sustainability; and to set up a global partnership for development.

Currently, the EU is facing the deadline for achieving MDG’s (in 2015). Before the UN General Assembly Special Event on MDGs in September 2013, the European Parliament’s Committee on Development (DEVE) reviewed a crucial issue for the future of development policy with regards to its report "Millennium Development Goals - defining the post-2015 framework.” A major focus of the Post 2015 agenda and sustainable development goals process is addressing the broad opportunities and challenges for higher education and skills programmes in Africa. Building on this, a particular focus of the post-2015 agenda will be on the role of business as a key driver of sustainable development throughout the globe. The MDGs are significant in informing current EU development policy because they identify information and communication technologies as key enablers for poverty reduction and growth towards an inclusive information society.

In the context of Europe 2020, EU development legislation will continue to address inclusive and sustainable growth with an emphasis on S&T capacity-building, ICTs and e-government, regional trade, R&D infrastructures and space research development. On a holistic level, collaboration is on-going through the European Framework Programme, where specific international cooperation actions focus on research issues relevant to developing countries. Moreover, a number of specific actions contributing to the agenda of the EU development policy have been developed through support to the coordination of research policies of EU Member States.

S&T and International Cooperation under EU Framework Programmes

The EU has association agreements with 14 countries, meaning their researchers can participate and get funding on the same basis as those of the Member States. In addition, the EU has 20 Science & Technology (S&T) Agreements, with partners such as Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia and the U.S. Under the Euratom treaty alone, the EU has also concluded fourteen S&T agreements on issues such as fusion cooperation and improved secure use of nuclear energy.

The Commission’s 2012 report, “Enhancing and focusing EU international cooperation in research and innovation: A strategic approach” promotes an EU-development through science diplomacy, to increase the EU’s international cooperation and capacity building in science and innovation. With the initiation of the new Framework Programme for Research & Innovation, Horizon 2020 (2014-2020) new agreements are being reestablished for all current development activities expressed above. 

Horizon 2020

In a 2012 analysis conducted by PAERIP (Promoting African – European Research Infrastructure Partnerships) on “Horizon 2020 and its impact on European Research Infrastructures,” the new framework is identified as the primary financial instrument underpinning EU research activities on an international scale, which include S&T agreements and joint programmes covering a wide set of development themes (e.g. the Euro-Africa Joint ICT research priorities, EU-Africa cooperation on e-infrastructures).

Given that these challenges reflect broader global societal challenges, international collaboration with global partners in scientific and technological research and development will be an especially important component of Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research & Innovation (2014-2020). 

At a glance, Horizon 2020 research goals are aligned with the EU's development goals by a newly created internal Commission working group, comprising research and international development directorate staff members to better coordinate capacity-building initiatives in developing regions. By breaking down administrative barriers to funding and research, Horizon 2020 endorsess a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation, bridging research and innovation activities with the Union’s market and abroad while encouraging dialogue between European researchers with third country counterparts on the choice of research topics in other parts of the globe.  Horizon 2020 rules will help to boost EU partnerships with emerging economies and developing countries, by opening up funding to developing countries (eligible for automatic funding). 

Innovative aspects of the Horizon 2020 programme and specific calls, with regard to EU S&T for development policy, will include: 

  • Scope of calls: Unlike previous EU FPs, Horizon 2020 will designate a majority of its budget to solving global societal challenges relevant to developing societies (e.g. climate change, food security, renewable, secure and efficient energy use, health and so forth). 
  • Openness of H2020 Rules of Participation: The Horizon 2020 legislation asserts that developing countries are eligible for automatic funding under Horizon 2020. This openness will be fortified through joint initiatives with third countries, joint and coordinated calls for projects in ICT, S&T, health and energy, with an emphasis on human capital development and science capacity-building initiatives and activities.
  • Promotion of women in technology.
  • Heightened knowledge and technology transfer Horizon 2020 research grants and training funds: Horizon 2020 allocates more funds to target international researchers and scholars in science to facilitate capacity-building in developing regions (e.g. MSCA fellowships, ERC grants, etc.).
  • Ensure research programmes are designed to truly address poverty reduction.

MENA-EU S&T Cooperation

In light of recent socio-political changes throughout the MENA region, the EU is hoping to work with regional leaders and institutions to promote S&T for development initiatives.

A major challenge facing the MENA region’s sustainable development initiatives is the conversion of R&D investment and activities into fixed capital with development-related outputs (e.g. tangible projects of value in terms of health, education and public policy). Although scientific and technological research and training are on the rise throughout the Arab world, they do not necessarily translate into solutions for social, economic and environmental dilemmas facing the region. This gap between the generation of scientific and technological knowledge and its application is attributed to a lack of strong regional and interdisciplinary collaboration between public, private and research sectors. 

On 27 September 2013, the first “EU-Maghreb Dialogue on Closer Regional Cooperation” was held in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. In an effort to address the European Union’s support for the region’s sustainable development as well as discuss initiatives to strengthen mutual cooperation, Mr. Štefan Füle, the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, met with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of five Maghreb countries: Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. 

This meeting was recognised as the first informal political dialogue between countries of the Arab Maghreb Union and the EU. The meeting identified four priority areas to direct EU-Maghreb regional cooperation:

  • Political dialogue and security cooperation;
  • Agriculture, environment and water resources (including rural development, fisheries, desertification and climate change);
  • Industry, infrastructure, trade, investment and technology (including tourism, energy, information and communication);
  • Human development (including scientific research, technology transfer, vocational training, employment, youth and sports).

The anticipated outcomes of EU-Maghreb regional cooperation includes:

  • Building momentum around and raise awareness of the importance of EU-Maghreb cooperation across the four priority areas; 
  • Maintaining regular political dialogue and build robust networks and relations on a regional and global scale;
  • EU to play a critical role in the roll-out of Maghreb regional integration to ensure that the four priorities translate into concrete regional policy initiatives.

Africa-EU Cooperation in Science, ICT and Space

The EU has a substantial historical and diplomatic relation with Africa, which it has fortified through cooperative partnerships in S&T for development.

The Joint Africa-EU Strategy, adopted in Lisbon in December 2007, lays down a long-term vision for a strategic partnership between Africa and the Union. It marks a qualitative leap in relations between the two continents, as it provides an overarching long-term framework for Africa-EU relations. Its' first action plan specifies concrete proposals structured along eight Africa-EU strategic partnerships, and aims at streamlining existing instruments to finance those partnerships.

The Africa-EU Partnership on Science, Information Society and Space ("The 8th Partnership") was initially adopted as part of the First Action Plan at the December 2007 Lisbon Summit with the key objective of bridging the digital and scientific gap within African countries and between Africa and other regions, as well as fostering cooperation on space applications and technology to support Africa's sustainable development goals. Under this Partnership, the European Commission and the African Union Commission (AUC) have articulated a broad range of S&T capacity building projects and initiatives in two Action Plans. Building on the First Action Plan (2007), which put forward activities intended to help reinforce the African Science and Technology basis and its research systems both in terms of production and use of knowledge, the Second Action Plan (2011-2013) puts a strong emphasis on capacity building activities to boost S&T projects and initiatives, to leverage faster inclusive economic growth and social development in Africa.

Two lighthouse projects selected in the Science and Technology chapter are:

  • African Research Grants: promote sustainable science and technology research for Africa’s technical, economic and social development, by focusing on competitive grants to African researchers;
  • "Water and food security" and "Better access to health in Africa" initiatives: strengthen the capacity in science and technology to cope with food security problems while promoting sustainable management of land and water resources.

It is important to note that Africa-EU cooperation takes place within the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative (GMES), under which satellite surveillance is promoted as an instrument for disaster prevention and the sustainable management of natural and food resources.

Other networking possibilities in place under current legislation, which will be instrumental in future Africa-EU S&T development cooperation, include MIRA (North Africa) and CAAST-net (sub-Saharan Africa), IST-Africa, Euro-Africa ICT and ESASTAP Plus, a new bilateral EU-South Africa science cooperation project, to support South Africa’s participation in the Framework and national programmes enacted on 2 November 2012.

S&T for Development through AERAP

As astronomy is linked to cutting-edge technology, frontier science and culture it is a unique tool for fostering development. Since its initiation in May 2012, AERAP has organised several workshops in Brussels and South Africa, which focus on different areas of radio astronomy cooperation. Through its events and activities, AERAP aims to initiate radio astronomy partnerships between Africa and Europe based on the most up-to-date research and technical advances. 

As explained above, the AERAP stakeholders convened during the ES:GC2 conference to discuss the Draft AERAP Framework Programme for Cooperation. The mission of this framework programme is to define objectives and key actions for future African-European radio astronomy cooperation. The concept grounding this programme envisions radio astronomy cooperation through eight thematic priorities: resource infrastructures; instrumentation, research and development; support for global projects; human capital development; ICT and big data; renewable energy for radio astronomy; astronomy as a tool for science education and public outreach. The overarching goal of this programme will be to build partnerships for advancing African-European cooperation in these thematic areas. 

If you have any question on these calls and programmes, do not hesitate to contact the AERAP Helpdesk (helpdesk@aerap.org) or consult the AERAP website.

ACP Sugar Research Programme

The mission of the ACP Sugar Research Programme, funded by the European Union and managed by the ACP, is to provide solutions to the sugar industry in ACP countries by responding to a selected number of clearly identified technological challenges that hamper the sugarcane sector's performance. Enhancing the capacity for sugar industries in ACP countries will ease the transition to a deregulated sugar market which offers fewer preferences and increase the competitiveness of the sugar sector in ACP countries, allowing them to compete in global markets.

The thirteen projects implemented through this research programme have three main avenues, the production of new cane varieties; the reduction of sugar cane cost of production and mitigation of negative impacts on the environment; and the reduction of sugar losses from processing and adding value to sugar cane by-products.

These projects will not only lead to sugar sector competitiveness but will strengthen capacity to advance scientific research and innovation, which will further boost economic development through knowledge creation and its application to broader economic activities. With a global need for sustainable increased food production to feed a growing population, research in sugar and technology can provide means to produce more using less resources and innovative environmentally-friendly production methods.

Moreover, many useful by-products can be developed from sugar to meet other global challenges such as the growing need for energy resources, climate change and environmental sustainability, as sugar can be used for its biomass to produce energy and has properties suitable for the development of a range of useful chemicals and products.

The White Paper ‘ACP Sugar Research Programme: Science and Innovation in Agriculture to Promote Growth’ describes the relevance of the programme in the current global context of food security, energy, and sustainability challenges and provides examples of the programme’s achievements and results.

Chapter 2 provides an account of the growing recognition of science and innovation in EU and global policies aiming for sustainable economic growth and describes how policies are increasingly supporting agriculture as a means to tackle global challenges. In Chapter 3, an explanation of the ways in which research in sugar can contribute to tackling various global challenges is provided, followed by a detailed description of the positive multiplier effects of greater sugar sector competitiveness in ACP countries. Chapter 4 describes the aims and results of the projects implemented under the ACP Sugar Research programme, explaining how the expected gains of research in sugar are being achieved. Chapter 5 illustrates three case studies from the Sugar Research Programme and their achievements. As shown in Chapter 6, various EU policy instruments, namely Horizon 2020, the European Development Fund, and the Development Cooperation Instrument, support research and development in agriculture, and the aims and nature of the ACP-SRP meet their requirements and can help achieve their aims. Chapter 7 presents a roadmap for the ACP-SRP’s next actions. 

The ACP-SRP White Paper is available for download here

Global Challenges

Research and development (R&D) is traditionally regarded as an important generator of knowledge and can be used to devise new applications and products. In developing regions, such as South and Southeast Asia, governments have increasingly tended to invest in R&D initiatives to foster high growth rates and promote national capacity building initiatives. Thusly, scientific and technological knowledge is an essential element in the process of socio-economic transformation and sustainable economic growth for developing countries. For R&D to play a substantial role in driving sustainable development, a series of institutional prerequisites must be in place. These prerequisites include, but are not limited to, dynamic information and research infrastructure(s), an educated and skilled population as well as an efficient innovation system.

The logic uniting capacity building policies with S&T promotion concludes that a society’s ability to solve problems and to initiate or sustain economic growth depends (in part) on its capacities in science, technology and innovation. Given this conclusion, for scientific and technological research and development to inform sustainable development policies and initiatives, it is imperative that governments throughout the world focus on creating “knowledge societies.” A knowledge society is not merely developed in terms of basic necessities and political/societal institutions. Drawing on scientific and technological innovation, knowledge societies have systems of education, training and technology transfer to ensure that investment in development equips individuals with the means to use innovative ideas and tools to improve their lives.

Effects of Globalisation on “science for development” include:

  • Revolutions in ICT and biotechnology research (creates opportunities and new pressures on skill set and organised practices within enterprises, universities, R&D and manufacturing sites.
  • Intellectual property regimes are changing at the same tile that the global structural environment (“the changed geopolitical climate”), giving specific access to U.S. and other advanced markets. Countries with rapid economic growth rates are said to attract international attention because they represent new markets.
  • The use of technologies to build resilience to disasters.

During the five-day conference on “EU Science: Global Challenges, Global Collaboration” (ES:GC2), that was held from 4-8 March 2013 in Brussels, several plenary sessions and seminars discussed how science, technology and innovation can be used to tackle development issues.

The “International Collaboration for Global Capacity Building Plenary” brought together international scientists from across disciplines and policy-makers to present their vision on the growing importance of international cross disciplinary and inclusive collaboration in tackling global challenges with scientific research. The seminars “Food Security and Safety” and “Promoting Excellence in R&D for Global Health” showed new solutions to meet the growing demand for food or to develop innovative and affordable treatments for poverty-related diseases.

The topic of science capacity building in developing countries has been addressed by two workshops (“Science For Global Development: Astronomy – A Case Study” and the “Workshop to Discuss the Draft AERAP Framework Programme for Cooperation”) that discussed the potential of (radio) astronomy as a tool to build global capacity.

The next installment of ES:GC2 is set to take place in March 2015, and will build on the progress made in the first conference to further promote S&T for development in Europe and beyond.