Article | Last updated: 2015-03-18 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Through the EEA Agreement, Norway takes part in the EU’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development. These programmes are the EU’s largest and most important tool for financing research at European level and for the development of the common European Research Area, which promotes closer cooperation on knowledge and technology and greater mobility for researchers. Norway is an active partner in the development of the European Research Area.
Greater internationalisation is one of four cross-cutting goals of Norwegian research policy. Our participation in the EU’s Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development constitutes our most important international research cooperation commitment. The main objectives of our research cooperation with the EU are to enhance the quality of Norwegian research and to ensure renewal and relevance in Norway’s research and innovation activities.
The European Research Area
Under the Treaty of Lisbon of 2009, the EU has taken on a more active role in the area of research, and the promotion of research is now a specific goal. Research activities in the EU have traditionally focused on research and technology development in order to stimulate industrial development and competition. The European Research Area (ERA) was established under the Treaty of Lisbon to strengthen the EU’s scientific and technological bases and to promote joint research efforts in key policy areas, such as the environment, health, food and energy. The Treaty of Lisbon also identifies space policy as a new focus area for the EU, with research and technology activities as important tools in this work.
An important aspect of the EU’s research and innovation policy is to promote a knowledge-based society and a knowledge-based economy. Closer links between research and innovation have been high on the agenda since the EU presented its growth strategy, Europe 2020. This strategy calls on the EU’s research and innovation activities to tackle what have been identified as “grand societal challenges” in the time ahead.
One of the main goals of Europe 2020 is that on average 3 % of the EU’s GDP should be invested in research and development by 2020. The EU will promote increased investment in research in the business sector and strengthen the relevance of its research activities for the business sector. Fostering more fruitful cooperation between research communities and the business sector is an important aspect of this work.
The vision of the European Research Area (ERA) is an “internal market” for research that complements the economic internal market by allowing free circulation of researchers, ideas and technology in Europe. The ERA is designed to provide better opportunities for cooperation, competition and sharing of knowledge and technology across national borders, and, not least, to make it possible for researchers to work anywhere in Europe. Both closer cooperation between national R&D programmes and greater competition are also important. The ERA is currently being developed through the framework programmes and various activities outside of these. According to Europe 2020 and European Council decisions, the ERA is to be completed by 2014.
The framework programmes for research constitute the most concrete effort in this area. The Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) (2007–2013) is the world’s largest research programme of its kind, and the third largest budget area in the EU (after agriculture and regional policy). FP7 is designed to make Europe a world-leading research area within both basic and applied research. Its goal is excellence.
On 30 November 2011, the European Commission presented its proposal for a new framework programme for the period 2014–2020, Horizon 2020. The proposal was drawn up following extensive consultations.
The Commission has proposed that Horizon 2020 should be an integrated research and innovation programme in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. This would mean gathering all financing of research and innovation in the EU in a single programme, thus providing a comprehensive set of tools for the whole of the innovation chain. The aim is to ensure that more research results are applied and reach the market. It is proposed that Horizon 2020 should give priority to: excellent science, industrial leadership and tackling societal challenges.
Norway’s cooperation with the EU in the area of research
Research is included in the EEA Agreement as an area of cooperation outside the four freedoms. Norway has taken part in the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development for more than 20 years, and under the EEA Agreement since 1994.
Norway and the other EFTA/EEA countries contribute to the budgets for the Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development according to a GDP-based key specified in the EEA Agreement. The contribution from EFTA/EEA countries is added to the EU budget for the framework programmes. Around 70 % of the total amount paid by Norway for participation in EU programmes under the EEA Agreement is related to participation in the framework programmes.
Norway has status as an FP7 associated country. This means that we can take part as observers on the committees established to implement the framework programmes.
The EEA Agreement allows for broader research cooperation, in addition to participation in the framework programmes. Norway is actively engaged in the development of the ERA through participation in various EU committees and processes, including the European Research Area Committee (ERAC), which is a key forum for discussion and coordination of research policy and has an important advisory role vis-à-vis both the European Commission and the European Council. In addition, Norway is involved in various other committees that have been established to develop the ERA, including those relating to the framework programmes, research infrastructure and international research cooperation.
Norway has also put forward concrete proposals for new initiatives, for example the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans), which is now being developed, and a proposal for cooperation on research infrastructure in the fields of climate and polar research and carbon capture and storage (CCS). Norway is actively involved in a broad range of other initiatives that have arisen from this cooperation, for example in the area of major societal challenges relating to climate change, health and food security.
Participation in framework programmes
In December 2011, around 4 000 Norwegian researchers were taking part in 933 international research projects in Europe through the FP7. Approximately a quarter of these projects have a Norwegian coordinator. Projects with Norwegian participants are more frequently awarded grants compared with the average figures, particularly in the areas of environment, transport, social issues, food security and energy.
Through participation in the FP7, Norwegian research centres gain access to international knowledge, expertise and cooperation that contributes to professional development and the development of international research networks. The business sector benefits from opportunities for cooperation with knowledge institutions and potential suppliers and purchasers of products and technology. For the research institutions involved, the FP7 is also an arena for commissioned research.
- Norway takes part in several committees, working groups and expert groups that assist the Commission in implementing the framework programmes and contribute to the development of the ERA.
- The Ministry of Education and Research chairs the EEA special committee on research, in which other ministries take part.
- The Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries take part in the EFTA working group on research.
- The Ministry of Education and Research coordinates Norway’s participation in the framework programmes. The Research Council of Norway is responsible for information and advice about the programmes as well as other tools that are important for successful participation.
Contact information for all the Norwegian national experts can be found on the EFTA Secretariat’s website.