The European Union needs a stronger commitment to research, development and innovation. It also needs more active, purposeful cooperation in science and technology with other regions, both to strengthen its competitive position and contribute to the solution of global problems that imperil also its own future. Much of the responsibility in creating and implementing a new international strategy falls on member governments and business actors. However, the Community can make an important difference by beefing up its own international strategy in science and technology that so far has been lacking ambition and coherence.
The aim should be to make the EU a strong actor and attractive partner in international research cooperation. The pursuit of this aim could be facilitated by consolidating small projects into large entities, flagship projects that would be visible both in the EU and the partner countries. Stronger efforts should be made to advertise, through different channels and contact points, the availability of European financial and human resources for mutual gainful cooperation. One possibility would be to explore the opportunities for co-funding of research projects with interested partner countries.
The new EC strategy must be goal-oriented both in terms of establishing priorities among partner countries and defining areas of cooperation. Such priorities can only be established by differentiating among partner countries on the basis of their competitive capabilities and societal needs. Different groups of partner countries need different philosophies and instruments of cooperation. The Framework Programmes and their international component are important means in pursuing the European objectives both through cooperation and competition.