General openness is one of the main objectives of the European Commission when describing the Horizon 2020, the European Union´s research and innovation program, with over €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020), dedicated to foster excellent science, industrial leadership, and tackling societal challenges. The goal is to ensure Europe produces world-class science, removes barriers to innovation, and makes it easier for the public and private sectors to work together in delivering innovation.
International cooperation, as a cross-cutting topic, lies in the core of the Horizon 2020 program, addressed within its 3 pillars providing a range of opportunities to collaborate with non-EU Member States and Associated countries (Third Countries) in research, technology, and innovation (RTI). International cooperation is not only crucial to tackle global challenges, but also to strengthen Europe’s excellence in science, increase its attractiveness towards becoming a global leader in innovation, and support the European Union’s external policies through science diplomacy. In line with multiannual roadmaps to foster cooperation with key partner countries/regions of Europe, Horizon 2020 specifically encourages international cooperation through various instruments. Such instruments can be joint/coordinated calls, targeted calls for collaborative research and innovation projects with recommended or obligatory participation of Third Countries, and other specific horizontal activities called Coordination and Support Actions dedicated to promoting international cooperation specific horizontal activities in the H2020 Societal Challenge 6 ´inclusive, innovative and reflective societies´.
Automatic funding for international partners, partners not located in EU Member States and Associated countries (Third Countries), on the other hand, is limited to those from developing, enlargement and neighborhood countries. In order to improve international participation in H2020, the EC has introduced various measures in cooperation with their counterparts in third countries, as described below:
- Participation in a H2020 Project as full partner with EU Funding
All U.S. entities and researchers can participate in all areas of H2020 together with researchers from the 28 EU Member States and Associated Countries,U.S. entities and researchers may be eligible to receive funding in the following cases:
- S. participation is foreseen/requested specifically in the relevant Work Programme or Call,
- S. participation is decisive or essential for carrying out the project and for ensuring project success. Additionally, under societal challenge, in the area of Health, as a result of a bilateral agreement between the European Commission and the National Institute of Health (NIH), U.S. partners participating in an H2020 project are eligible to receive EU funding
- Participation in a H2020 Project as full partner without EU funding: EU- U.S. Implementing Arrangement
On October 17, 2016, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Anthony Gardner and the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, signed an Implementing Arrangement between the Government of the United States of America and the European Commission to enhance transatlantic cooperation on science, technology, and innovation. According to this arrangement, U.S. researchers and/or entities with their own sources of funding are allowed to collaborate with a Horizon 2020 research project consortium without having to sign the Horizon 2020 Grant Agreement. This is a major step for those U.S. entities who cannot sign the H2020 Grant Agreements for legal reasons.
This implementing arrangement is especially useful for those U.S. researchers/entities that do not request European funding but wish to work together with European partners on a topic of their interest. The framework for a successful project implementation is set in the Consortium Agreement which is outlining the rights and obligations and signed by the beneficiaries, all having the same rights and obligations.
- Participation in a H2020 Project as Implementing Certain Action Tasks without EU funding- Article 14a
U.S. entities may be linked to a H2020 Project not as full research partner but as partner responsible for implementation of some activities within the Project. In this case, they do not get EU funding, neither directly nor indirectly. The cost of their participation are estimated but not included in the grant amount calculations by the Coordinator and not covered by the Grant. In this case, the U.S. entity is considered as Third Party (rather than a beneficiary or a research partner) and a designated beneficiary from the consortium will be responsible for the Third Party´s activities.
The U.S. entity performs tasks directly (under the supervision of a beneficiary) without signing the Grant Agreement. The beneficiary remains responsible towards the Commission/Agency for the tasks performed by its U.S. entity. No cost reporting is required. In line with the periodic reporting the explanation of the work carried out as well as an overview of the progress shall be reported to the linked beneficiary.