Explanatory Memorandum to COM(2023)176 - Extension of the Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the EC and the Government of the USA

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•Reasons for and objectives of the proposal

Since 1998 the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US) have been strategic partners for research. A first bilateral Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the Government of the United States of America 1 ('the Agreement') was signed in Washington, DC, on 5 December 1997 and entered into force on 14 October 1998. Since then, the Agreement was extended four times, i.e. in 2003 2 , in 2008 3 , in 2013 4 and in 2018 5 for an additional period of 5 years each time. The second extension included an amendment, namely the addition of research on security and space to the list of sectors for cooperative activities (Article 4 of the Agreement).

Article 12 letter (b) of the Agreement stipulates that: 'This Agreement is concluded for an initial period of five years. Subject to review by the Parties in the final year of each successive period, the Agreement may be extended with possible amendments, thereafter for additional periods of five years by mutual written agreement between the Parties'.

The current Agreement is due to expire on 14 October 2023.

Cooperation with the US is a key element of the EU’s Global Approach to research and innovation outlined in the Commission Communication of 18 May 2021 6 . Building research and innovation alliances with the US, both bilaterally and within multilateral fora, contributes to Europe’s capacity to succeed on the green and digital transitions and will strengthen resilience to global health threats and other global challenges . In the area of science and technology the EU and the US share basic values of ethics, integrity of research, openness and transparency, and evidence-based policy making, which make them natural partners. By stepping up their partnership on research and development activities in science and technology, the EU and the US can move forward faster towards clean energy; sustainable and safe transport; clean oceans and blue economy; smart cities; a resilient and inclusive society; and other advances that will serve our shared interests.

Against this backdrop, an assessment of how the cooperation with the US is evolving and how it contributes to the objectives of the strategy for international cooperation has been carried out by the Commission services. This assessment clearly demonstrates that the Agreement provides an important framework for facilitating cooperation between the EU and the US in common Science & Technology (S&T) priority areas leading to mutual benefits. The main instrument for cooperation is the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

The EU's relationship with the US in Science & Technology is stronger than with any other country outside Europe. Among non-Associated third countries, the US was by far the most active country participating in Horizon 2020. This is true for the amounts of mutual research and development (R&D) investment, flows of scientists, volumes of cooperative activities and the number of co-authored publications and patents.

Under the current Agreement cooperation has been thriving both at a bilateral and multilateral level. Multilaterally, a particularly valuable example of a Global Alliance, promoted by the EU and the US, is the All-Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, which inspired to a great extent the whole conception of Global Alliances outlined in the above-referred Commission Communication of 18 May 2021. A further example is Mission Innovation (MI), which is a global initiative of 22 countries and the European Union, with the aim to accelerate effort in innovation in clean energy. The EU is working closely with the US in a variety of other multilateral initiatives including in the field of health, bioeconomy and earth observation. Bilateral cooperation is very dynamic in the fields of health, transport, advanced materials, research infrastructures, information and communication technologies, food security and sustainable agriculture, climate and the environment, areas where the US participation in Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe has been particularly important.

The last EU-US Joint Counsultative Group on S&T cooperation that took place on 12 October 2022 at Directorate General level confirmed the strong willingness of both Parties to continue and expand cooperation across the board under the Agreement.

Both Parties confirmed their wish to extend the Agreement by exchange of letters, i.e. letter from DG R&I dated 7 November 2022, and letter from US Department of State dated 13 December 2022.

The extension of the Agreement reflects the importance of the US as a key partner country in science and technology and will allow building on the already existing strong ties in a wide range of thematic areas and to underpin substantial dialogue and cooperation in the next five-year period.

The substance of the extended Agreement will be identical to that of the current Agreement.

•Consistency with existing policy provisions in the policy area

This initiative is fully in line with the Commission Communication of 18 May 2021 on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation, Europe's strategy for international cooperation in a changing world (COM(2021)252 final/2).

The Global Approach Strategy confirms the role of the US as a key partner country for the EU by stressing that “Cooperation with the United States, with which the EU shares high levels of research and innovation capacity and common values and principles, ensures that researchers, innovators and the best facilities are combined in the search for solutions to global challenges. In particular, the recommitment of the United States to climate goals and to the strengthening of the multilateral order provides the opportunity for a renewed relationship in research and innovation. The Joint Communication ‘A new EU-US agenda for global change’ sets out a number of proposals for cooperation with the US, and notably a call to form a Green Technology Alliance and to establish a new EU-US Trade and Technology Council. Building on this text, the Commission also proposes to increase reciprocity in bilateral cooperation, and raise the levels of coordination and coherence between EU and US research and innovation investments, beginning with climate, digital, energy, environmental and health challenges.”

•Consistency with other Union policies

The EU's Global Strategy for the EUs Foreign and Security Policy' confirms that research cooperation is an important aspect of EU foreign policy and sees research cooperation as an essential element of stronger socio-economic ties, including with the US.

The last EU-US Summit confirmed the importance of R&I cooperation to address common challenges related to global healh and green transition and called for reinforced cooperation on R&I particularly in the areas of health, energy, oceans and through the recently established Trade and Technology Council.

EU-US R&I cooperation under the Agreement contributes to overarching EU policy objectives related notably to: i) the Green Transition, for example with initiatives stemming from Mission Innovation, the All Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance, Arctic research, the International Bioeconomy Forum (IBF), and the Group on Earth Observation (GEO); ii) Global Health through multilateral and bilateral cooperation on infectious diseases, cancer, mental heath, and many others; iii) Digital transition, innovation, and data sharing through for example work on smart Specialisation methodology, Open Access and Open Science, and bilateral ICT cooperation.



•Legal basis

The EU’s power to act internationally in research and technological development is based on Article 186 TFEU. The procedural legal basis for the proposal is point (a) (v) of Article 218(6) TFEU.


Subsidiarity (for non-exclusive competence)

The EU and its Members States have shared parallel competence in the area of research and technological development in accordance with Article 4(3) TFEU. Therefore EU's action cannot be replaced by action of Member States.



•Regulatory fitness and simplification


This initiative is not part of the REFIT agenda




Only human and administrative resources are required and are set out in the 'Legislative Financial Statement'.

In the light of the above considerations, the Commission requests that the Council:

- approves, on behalf of the Union, and with the consent of the European Parliament, the extension of the “Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the Government of the United States of America”, for an additional period of five years (i.e. from 14.10.2023 until 13.10.2028);

- authorises the President of the Council to designate the person(s) empowered to notify the Government of the United States of America that the Union has completed its internal procedures necessary for the entry into force of this renewed Agreement.