|Keywords:||European Union (EU); Technology transfer.|
|Correct citation:||Heissler, M. (1996), "R&D Cooperation between the EU and Developing Countries." Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 26, p. 12-14.|
The 15 member states of the European Union constitute a principal source of development assistance. Today, almost half of the total aid budget received by developing countries originates from the Unionís member countries, of which 13 per cent passes the Union administration. In addition to more conventional development aid policy, such as financial and technical assistance, the European Union aims to intensify scientific and technological cooperation with developing countries.
The core of the European Union (EU) foreign aid policy is the
Lomé Convention, which was first signed in 1975 in Lomé,
the capital of Togo. The treaty currently links 70 countries (mostly ex-European
colonies) in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP countries) to the
member states through financial aid programmes and preferential trade conditions.
The Convention is funded by the member states through the European Development
Fund (EDF). The 8th EDF (1995-1999) accounts for US$ 17 billion, of
which 92 per cent consists of grants.
Other agreements are oriented to the Mediterranean Basin countries outside the EU, as well as Asian and Latin American countries. By the end of the 1980s, the EU started cooperation with Eastern European countries and the countries of the former Soviet Union.
According to the 1992 Treaty on the European Union (commonly known as the Maastricht Treaty), the objectives of the Unionís development aid policy are to stimulate:
|Financial breakdown of INCO and INCO-DC programmes
Source: European Commission
Cooperation programmes until 1994
In addition to its financial assistance, between 1983 and 1994 the EU has launched three Science and Technology for Development (STD) programmes on health, nutrition, and agriculture to support the development of scientific and technological cooperation with developing countries with a total budget of about US$ 264 million (see also Monitor No. 2). In the period 1991-1994, the EU initiated two other scientific development cooperation programmes with developing countries. The International Scientific Cooperation (ISC) programme aimed at enabling scientists from Latin America, Asia and Mediterranean countries to participate in joint research activities with laboratories in the EU. One of these activities was the establishment of the China-EC Biotechnology Centre in Beijing. The centre aims to improve information exchange on biotechnological research within China, and between China and the EU. Additionally, it monitors the biotechnology R&D activities of STD/3 and ISC in China (see also Monitor No. 13).
The other programme, AVICENNE, promotes the scientific and technological cooperation with the Maghreb countries and the countries of the Mediterranean Basin. It focused on research on waste water treatment, basic health care and renewable energy resources.
The INCO programme
Since 1994, the EU has been implementing its fourth Framework Programme, of which the Cooperation with Third Countries and International Organisations (INCO) forms part. The aim of this US$ 575 million initiative is to strengthen the Unionís scientific and technological base and to support the implementation of other Community policies, such as development aid policy. INCO is aimed at concentrating the Unionís R&D cooperation activities with all third countries. Part of the INCO programme is the Scientific and Technological Cooperation with the Developing Countries (INCO-DC) programme, which aims to stimulate the generation of knowledge and innovative and appropriate technologies to solve specific problems in a developing region. Additionally, it should enable the European scientific community to maintain and improve excellence in the scientific areas that are relevant to developing countries, in particular environment, agriculture and health. In contrast to the STD programmes, INCO-DC specifically includes the sustainable management of renewable resources and gives explicit priority to regional problems and regional cooperation.
In all areas of the programme, collaboration between the member states will be pursued to optimize the effectiveness of EU and member states international R&D cooperation programmes and to sharpen the Unionís efforts in terms of subsidiarity to avoid unnecessary duplication of national and common efforts in development aid.
INCO-DC is funded with US$ 247 million for the period 1995-1998. It is open to all natural persons and national or regional organizations (such as corporations, universities, research institutes) in developing countries. As a general rule, projects should involve partners from at least two different EU member states and one partner from a developing country. Since the programmeís objective is to strengthen regional cooperation in the South, there is a strong preference for projects including two or more partners from different developing countries in the same region. Most R&D projects under the INCO-DC will be carried out through shared cost actions, which means the EU contribution is limited to 50 per cent of the project costs. Another form of cooperation between research teams in the EU and those of developing countries is through concerted actions, where the EU re-imburses coordination costs, but not the project costs.
Until now, projects have yet to be approved (see box).
As a result of the first INCO-DC call for proposals in March 1995, 1,164 proposals have been evaluated. In March 1996, the second call for proposals will be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities as well as on Internet. The last call will be in 1997. The main criteria used in the selection process are the scientific quality of the proposal and the characteristics of cooperation between the participants, especially with respect to North-South cooperation. Particular emphasis is given to projects which contribute significantly to the solution of problems relevant to more than one developing country. Additional criteria include the estimated impact on sustainable development and the extent to which interdisciplinary approaches are integrated. The EU offers an information package for all interested scientists or research organizations.
For more information: the EU delegation in your country or the
European Commission DG XII/B/4 (INCO)-DC SDME R2/11275, Square de Meeûs
8, 1040 Brussels, Belgium. Fax +32 2 2966252; E-mail Infodesk.firstname.lastname@example.org;
INCO-DC target sectors
INCO-DC activities are targeted on three inter-related sectors, which are thought to constitute key elements for balanced development. Biotechnology development is not an explicit objective of the programme, but it is nevertheless considered to be a tool in several cases related to the target sectors.
Sustainable management of renewable natural resources. The principal objective of research in this sector is to promote the conservation and the suitable use of natural resources (e.g. forests, oceans, soil and biodiversity), compatible with long term sustainable economic growth and enhancement of productive capacity. Special attention is given to strategies for the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources from an ecological and economic point of view.
Policy research is also considered important, for example on how to make sustainable use of genetic resources or on problems associated with the sharing of costs and benefits (including intellectual property rights) deriving from the conservation and utilization of natural resources.
Sustainable improvement of agricultural and agro-industrial production. The main objectives in this sector are the improvement of food security, the development of environmentally sound agriculture combined with economic development. The ultimate outcome of these efforts should be an increase in the standard of living in developing countries. Biotechnology is considered to be important in the area of crop production, where the aim is to improve and protect varieties. In the field of animal production, the aim is to increase resistance or tolerance to disease or parasites by utilizing the genetic potential of the indigenous breeds to increase their productivity under local conditions, and by improving and developing vaccines.
Human health. The main emphasis in this sector is on biomedical research concerning diseases occurring in developing countries, such as malaria, acute respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and the improvement of health care systems. In this sector, biotechnology could be useful for the development of vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and for research on the genome structure and the regulation of gene expression of disease causing pathogens. In addition to the sectors above, for those developing countries that have attained a higher level of scientific development INCO-DC offers R&D cooperation in fields of mutual interest, such as information technologies, non nuclear energies, material technologies and biotechnologies.
The INCO-DC programme does not only address biotechnology applications in the agricultural/agro-industrial sector, but also includes socio-economic research such as policy and technology assessment studies, especially with respect to environmental issues. In contrast to financial assistance for research projects through development aid, the close cooperation between researchers from the South and with their Northern counterparts offers new possibilities. In addition, INCO-DC aims to stimulate regional (South-South) cooperation, instead of the often bilateral approach characterizing the STD programmes. The question is, however, if such an ambitious programme can achieve its goals considering its small budget. Other programmes in related areas of the 4th framework, for example, have a budget eight times as high.
Ludgeriplatz 21 47057 Duisburg. E-mail: email@example.com
Several documents of the European Commission
Personal Communication with A. Darthenucq and M. Wright (European Commission, DG XII, Brussels), H. Franzen and H.J. Lutzeyer (Council for Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research, ATSAF, Bonn).
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