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Which countries can access EU research funding?

All European Union (EU) Member States can access EU research funding. 

In addition, a number of mechanisms exist to enable scientific institutions and researchers in non-EU countries to participate in, and  receive funding from, EU Framework Programmes.

Associated Countries

Thirteen counties (including Norway, Israel and Switzerland) have ‘Associated Country’ status and contribute to Framework Programme budgets proportionally to their GDP. This enables their researchers and organisations to apply for Horizon 2020 projects with the same status as those from EU Member States. Associated Country status is open to countries that are members of the European Free Trade  Association (EFTA) and current EU candidate nations. The terms of their association differ slightly by country. They do not have a role in the negotiations that shape EU research funding.

Non-associated third countries

Institutions and researchers from other countries can also apply and participate in EU Framework Programmes, under the ‘openness’ strategy, and in some circumstances receive direct funding. Depending on the exact scheme, third countries might have to provide matching funds.

Scientific and technological cooperation

The EU has international agreements for scientific and technological cooperation with 20 countries. These create a framework for  participation in joint projects, sharing of facilities, staff exchanges or the organisation of specific events.

Case study - Switzerland

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Case study - Norway

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The European Research Area (ERA)

Work is underway to create a European Research Area (ERA). This is intended to be: 

“ a unified research area open to the world based on the Internal Market, in which researchers, scientific knowledge and technology circulate freely and through which the Union and its Member States strengthen their scientific and technological bases, their competitiveness and their capacity to collectively address grand challenges.”

The aim of the ERA is to maximise the return on research investment for both the EU and its individual Member States; avoid unnecessary duplication of research and infrastructure investment at national level; and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the European research community.

Its key priorities are:

  • More effective national research systems
  • Optimal transnational co-operation and competition
  • An open labour market for researchers
  • Gender equality and gender mainstreaming in research
  • Optimal circulation, access to and transfer of scientific knowledge

An ERA Board advices the European Commission on the realisation of the ERA and helps develop, promote and evaluate policy initiatives and actions. The board consists of high-level experts from academia, business and industry appointed in their personal capacity by the European Commission. The current chair is Professor John Wood CBE FREng.

The European Research Area and Innovation Committee (ERAC) advises the EU and Member States on research and innovation issues that are  relevant to the development of the ERA. The ERAC is chaired by the Commission and includes representatives of all Member States. A number of non-EU countries that are associated to EU research and innovation programmes, including Norway, Israel and Switzerland, participate as observers.

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