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EU and Russia strengthen scientific ties
Scientific ties between Russia and the European Union look set to become much tighter in the years to come, according to a joint statement of the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council and Research, which met for the first time on 26 May. On the cards are a set of coordinated calls for co-funded projects in the area of health, and nanotechnologies and new materials.
The meeting was attended by the President of the EU Council on Competitiveness, Slovenian Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology Mojca Kucler Dolinar, Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko, European Commissioner Janez Potocnik, responsible for research and technological development, and Pierre Legueltel of the incoming French EU Council Presidency.
In a joint statement, both delegations said that they were pleased with Russian and EU scientific ties to date. They welcomed the fact that 'cooperation between the EU and Russia in the field of research is one of the most promising areas of cooperation and the role this closer cooperation will play as an increasingly important aspect of socio-economic progress, economic development and effective resource management'.
Russian scientists have been collaborating with their colleagues from the EU for decades and have been an active participant in the EU's research framework programmes. In FP6 alone, Russia was the most successful third country participant in terms of funding support from the Commission and one of the most active third-country participants overall. More than 300 participants from Russia were involved in over 200 joint research projects in all thematic areas and sub-programmes of the FP6 worth over €2 billion. In total the Russian research organisations obtained more than ?45 million in funding.
In addition to a cooperation agreement signed in 2000, the EU and Russia took a decision in 2003 to create a common space in which their respective research communities could work together in key strategic areas, such as space, aeronautics, renewable energy sources and nuclear fission energy research to quality food, safety and climate change. A number of joint calls for co-funded projects in the areas of agro-bio-food and energy were launched as a result.
Now, a further set of joint calls are expected to be published imminently in the areas health, nanotechnologies and new materials, while discussions are ongoing on similar co-funded initiatives in the areas of aeronautics, nuclear fission and space research.
With the overarching EU and Russia scientific cooperation agreement coming to an end in 2009, delegates also agreed to undertake the necessary steps to extend this agreement.
Furthermore, to take the partnership to a 'new qualitative level', the EU delegates promised to rapidly examine the request by Russia to become associated with the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and all the relevant issues, including administrative, legal, organisational and procedural requirements.
Gaining 'associated status' would give Russian researchers the opportunity to participate in all FP7 calls for proposals and compete for funding on an equal footing with scientists from across Europe.