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 R&D Cooperation between the EU and Developing Countries
By
Markus Heissler
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:

The Unionís policy is a supplement to the national development policies of its member states and aims to integrate development policy and the common policy. The implementation of the common policy is the task of the European Commission.
To further social and economic development of developing countries, the EU finances science and technology programmes. It provides (a) financial assistance for research programmes mainly in ACP countries through the EDF; and (b) science and technology development cooperation programmes for all developing countries, directly financed from the EU budget
.
Financial assistance for agricultural research
Rural development and food security in developing countries is aimed at through funding of international and regional agricultural research institutions and programmes. For example, the EU contributes to the financing of 6 of the 18 international research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Additionally, the Union funds regional research cooperation. For example, in the Caribbean, the EU finances a US$ 7 million, 5 year practically oriented R&D programme, carried out by the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). CARDI aims at the on-farm application of research findings in the area of tissue culture, seed propagation for pasture and legumes, and soil fertility research. Another project, funded by the EU with US$ 3 million, contributed to the development of an international gene bank for the conservation and evaluation of cocoa genotypes. Research results will be made available to selected cocoa producing countries to assist the implementation of their own breeding and collection programmes. The EU has also financed rice research facilities to investigate new strains and breeding techniques.
In Southern Africa, the EU supports a project coordinated by the Southern African Centre for Cooperation in Agricultural Research (SACCAR) based in Botswana. SACCAR and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) jointly conduct research on cowpea, which is used as fodder, food and green fertilizer. The EU supported the development of high-yielding varieties, improved cultivation techniques, and a market study. Other projects in the region include research on animal disease control, and land and water management.

Financial breakdown of INCO and INCO-DC programmes
 
INCO
Scientific and technological cooperation with the developing countries (INCO-DC) 43 %
Cooperation with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe with the New Independant States of the Former Soviet Union 43 %
Cooperation with other fora for European scientific and technological cooperation 8.5 %
Cooperation with Non-European Industrialised Third Countries 5.5 %
Total amount: US$ 575 million

 
INCO-DC
Sustainable management of renewable natural resources 30 %
Sustainable improvement of agricultural and agro-industrial production 30 %
Human health 30 %
Others 10 %
Total amount: US$ 247 million
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).
 
INCO-DC proposals

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.inco@mshg.cec.be; 
Internet WorldWideWeb Http://www.cordis.lu

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.

Opportunities
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.
Markus Heissler

Ludgeriplatz 21 47057 Duisburg. E-mail: sb096he@unidui.uni-duisburg.de

Sources
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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