Participation in European Internationalization Initiatives
Besides Austria’s own internationalization initiatives, strategies and projects developed and implemented at EU level are continuously gaining in importance for Austria’s positioning in the research, technology and innovation (RTI) arena in Europe and beyond. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research participates in these initiatives either directly or through its support to Austrian project partners, thus enabling Austrian RTI institutions to take part in international projects and networks. These activities range from efforts to extend international relations in research policy matters to the organization of joint calls for project proposals for multilateral research projects and advice to the European Commission and the European Council on issues relating to international RTI cooperation.
“European Research Area Network” projects, also known as ERA.NET projects, are designed to coordinate national and regional research programmes, the objective being to concentrate European research efforts and to strengthen the European Research Area. Joint and coordinated calls for proposals by funding institutions from different European countries (possibly with partners from third countries) constitute the core elements of such projects. In addition to ERA.NETs with a thematic focus, a number of projects with a regional focus have been implemented. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research is actively represented in projects corresponding to its own regional priorities (e.g. regions of the Western Balkans, Russia, Africa, India, etc.)
“International Cooperation Network” or INCO.NET projects support the regional coordination of national research policies, especially with a view to defining common priorities for regional cooperation. Currently, Austria participates in projects in the Danube region, the Western Balkans, Latin America, Africa, South-East Asia and Central Asia.
In an effort to optimize bilateral research agreements between EU Member States and non-EU third countries in concrete terms, the European Union publishes calls for so-called BILAT projects. “BILAT” stands for “Bilateral S&T Cooperation Partnerships”. Austria participates in projects with Ukraine, Russia, India, Canada and Japan.
The first European Macro-Regional Strategy, including regional research cooperation, was adopted for the Baltic Sea region in 2009,the Danube Region Strategy followed in 2011 and in 2015 the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region was established In view of the great relevance of the Danube Region Strategy for Austria, the Ministry is intensively involved in its implementation in areas relating to the “knowledge society”. Further EU strategies for the Mediterranean and the North Sea region are in the planning stage. Macro-regional strategies are closely associated with the EUROPE 2020 Flagship Initiative for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, the objective being to strengthen regional cooperation and coordination.
The “Strategic Forum for International Science and Technology Cooperation – SFIC” was set up by the EU Member States and the European Commission in the course of the Ljubljana Process as an advisory body for the European Commission and the Council of the European Union. The objective is for Member States and the European Commission to define together priority areas for international cooperation in research, technology and innovation and to position the EU in the global research area. The SFIC explores possibilities for coordinated international research cooperation among interested EU Member States, organizes international awareness-building measures highlighting Europe as a research location, and supports the implementation of the European strategy for international research cooperation. Current SFIC activities are focused, in particular, on China, India, the USA and Brazil.
Regional Dialogue (SOM, GSO)
At international level, the EU Member States and the European Commission regularly engage in a political dialogue in the R&D area. The dialogue takes place within the framework of SOMs (Senior Officials Meetings) with Asia (ASEM), Latin America, Africa and the Mediterranean region; the future dialogue with India will be organized in GSO (Group of Senior Officials) format. The meetings provide a platform for the discussion of the potential for regional cooperation, the development of joint strategies, and the identification of synergies with other EU policies and/or activities of EU Member States.