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Eastern and South-Eastern Europe

As countries directly bordering or geographically close to Austria are crucial to cross-border cooperation in research, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) has carried out an array of initiatives, programmes and projects since the 1990s to expand cooperation with Central, South-Eastern and Eastern Europe. For instance, to intensify research cooperation, it has concluded numerous intergovernmental treaties and agreements with partner ministries in recent years and used these accords as the basis for reaching agreement on programmes to promote bilateral cooperation. The BMBWF currently carries out cooperation programmes on a regular basis with Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. In addition, Austria teams up with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary to fund scholarships and bilateral cooperation activities in what it calls “Aktionen” (actions).

Along with bilateral cooperation, the expansion of multilateral cooperation is vital to the relations Austria has with Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in the realm of science. At the initiative of the BMBWF, a student exchange and scholarship programme was set up to further consolidate the Central European Exchange Program for University Studies (CEEPUS). The focus is on academic mobility for students, graduates and university faculty in Central and Eastern Europe.

The BMBWF also continuously takes part in relevant multilateral strategic networking projects in the EU Framework Programme for Research and in EU research policy dialogues with the region, such as the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, the Steering Platform on Research and Innovation for the Western Balkans or the Eastern Partnership Panel on Research & Innovation.

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Danube Region

The Danube Region has traditionally been an important region for cooperation for the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and for Austria as a whole. Along with a variety of bilateral activities, the BMBWF also uses the possibilities opened up by the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) to expand cross-border cooperation in the region. The EUSDR is the second EU macro-regional strategy and seeks to intensify regional cooperation within a unified strategic framework. The BMBWF is therefore actively involved in implementing the strategy in the realms of science and research and places all its cooperation activities with Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe under this umbrella strategy.

The following activities are currently being pushed as priorities:

  • Provide support to regional flagship projects of Austrian institutions that are instrumental for regional networking and positioning as flagship institutions in the Danube Region
  • Expand academic networks and joint university educational programmes, e.g. the Danube Rectors' Conference (DRC).
  • Coordinate and use national, regional and EU sources of funding to promote cross-border cooperation on research and innovation

Danubius Awards:

The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) has been bestowing the Danubius Award at the annual meetings of the Danube Rectors’ Conference (DRC) every year since 2011 in collaboration with the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe (IDM) and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission. These awards recognise achievements either in the humanities, the cultural sciences and the social sciences or in the life sciences on a rotating basis. The honourees are individuals whose scientific or academic work or output deals with the Danube Region in outstanding ways. Since 2014, the main award has been augmented by 14 Danubius Young Scientists Awards given out to up-and-coming researchers in the Danube Region. It is open to all academic disciplines and fields of study. With this addition, the BMBWF highlights the scientific accomplishments of talented young researchers in the Danube Region while underscoring the significance of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe as an excellent research area.

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