Brussels, 16 July 2008
Today the European Community signed an S&T cooperation agreement with New Zealand bringing the total number of S&T cooperation agreements the EC has signed with third countries to 33. This international agreement which replaces the administrative arrangement concluded between the two Parties in 1991 shall help to better prepare and coordinate the research cooperation.
"The signature of this Agreement will open a new chapter in the S&T cooperation between New Zealand and the European Union, and will reinforce international cooperation in the research area" stated European Science and Research Commissioner Potočnik who signed the agreement together with Ms. Pécresse, the French Minister for Higher Education and Research on behalf of the European Community, and the New Zealand Ambassador to the European Union HE Peter Kennedy.
Despite the geographical distance New Zealand's researchers have already successfully participated in the past in research activities under the European Research Framework Programmes. Traditionally their participation was particularly accentuated in the area of food, agriculture and biotechnology.
This Agreement shall help to extend the participation of researchers from New Zealand to other fields of common research interest such as Health, Environment and Information Technologies. Furthermore it should also facilitate the participation of European researchers in New Zealand's research activities.
Regular meetings of a Joint EC-New Zealand Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation which will be created under this Agreement will help to identify common research priorities and areas in which joint research efforts are particularly promising for both Parties.
The Agreement will enter into force once the ratification procedures of the Parties have been completed which is expected to be accomplished by the end of this year.
Research situation in New Zealand
New Zealand has a productive and high-performing research and development RS&T system by international standards. The New Zealand government is committed to strengthening the RS&T system so it can better support and accelerate economic and social development and enhance the quality of the environment.
Central to achieving this goal are the nine Crown Research Institutes, eight Universities and other public and private research institutes who carry out research in New Zealand. In 2005, New Zealand spent around 1.17 % of GDP on research and development (OECD). A major challenge for New Zealand is to increase the relatively low level of R&D investment by New Zealand industry sector, compared with other OECD countries.
In April 2008, the government introduced a tax credit on private sector investment in R&D to encourage New Zealand businesses to invest more in R&D, to innovate and develop improved products and processes.
Funding for research in New Zealand is carried out by three funding and investment agencies responsible for competitive and thematic research funding: The Foundation for Research Science & Technology (FRST) as the primary agency for allocating funds for public good science and technology; the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) as the agency responsible for the management of public good health research and the independent national academy of sciences Royal Society of New Zealand.
For more information on international science and technology cooperation: www.ec.europa.eu/research/inco