International cooperation in Horizon 2020

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International cooperation in Horizon 2020 pursues three main objectives

  • (a) Strengthening the Union’s excellence and attractiveness in research and innovation as well as its economic and industrial competitiveness
  • (b) Tackling common societal challenges
  • (c) Supporting the Union’s external and development policy objectives (United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, etc.)

Approach towards international cooperation in Horizon 2020

International cooperation in research and innovation pursues a dual approach of openness complemented by targeted international cooperation activities.

  • General openness: Above the minimum requirements for participation (3 MS/AC), researchers and institutions from third countries can participate in an EU R&I project (more information General rules for participation).
  • Targeted international cooperation activites (Topics particularly suitable for international cooperation)
    • research and innovation projects with obligatory or recommended participation of third countries
    • joint initiatives involving the Union and international partners (coordinated calls, contribution of Union to third country/international organisations, ERA-Net/Art185)
  • In addition - horizontal activities promote the strategic development ofinternational cooperation - policy dialogues, networking activities, etc. (the former "INCO projects" - now located in Societal Challenge 6 "Europe in changing world - inclusive, innovative and reflective societies)

The bilateral S&T agreements with third countries are seen as an important instrument in the EU's strategic approach to international cooperation in research and innovation.

Areas for targeted international cooperation activities across Horizon 2020 will be identified by an analysis of

  • Research and innovation excellence
  • Framework conditions/ Acess to markets
  • Contributions to international commitments
  • frameworks of cooperation and lessons learnt


Horizon 2020 is open to participation from across the world, however, there is a revision to the list of countries which receive automatic funding. In general there the distinction between three country grouping (more information Eligibility for funding):

  • Enlargement and neighbourhood countries, and EFTA - will generally be funded
  • Developing countries - will generally be funded
  • Industrialised countries and emerging economies - funded only in exceptions

More information

Additional information can be found on this Wiki as well as the Participant Portal of the European Commission which is main portal to all the information on Horizon 2020. On a subpage, the European Commission has also published all topics that have been flagged as being particularly suitable for international cooperation, meaning that consortia are encouraged to include third country partners.

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