EU-US summit ushers in new opportunities for research cooperation

The recent EU-US summit in Vienna has opened the door to increased cooperation between European and US researchers, especially in the areas of education, environment, energy efficiency, global pandemics and new energy sources.

A joint declaration covers a large number of areas, focusing on areas of concern, from international security and regional stability, to terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation. The final part of the statement refers to areas of cooperation.

The statement is likely to please the 12 National Science Academies that recently called for research into avian flu not to detract from work already underway in combating the three biggest killers, AIDS/HIV, malaria and TB. "We reiterate our support for multilateral efforts to improve prevention and combat global health threats such as the spread of pandemics, including HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, and other communicable diseases like SARS and Hepatitis," says the EU-US declaration.

Avian flu was specifically mentioned in the context of more research on limiting any possible spread through effective control in animal health. The bulk of likely areas for new collaborative research come under sustainable development, climate change and energy.

The statement addresses strengthening strategic energy cooperation. Specifically, to support diversification of energy sources and supplies and the accompanying markets and infrastructure. The quicker development of low-carbon technologies and more investment in the clear use of fossil fuels ,are singled out as particular priorities. European researchers lead the way in these technologies.

The statement also opens energy access to developing nations, with a particular focus on renewable and clean sources. To monitor these developments, the declaration agrees "to establish an EU-US High Level Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development to build on existing bilateral and multilateral initiatives". Both parties also agree to "work more closely to address the serious and long-term challenge of climate change, biodiversity loss and air pollution".

The EU and US also want to "enhance our dialogue to promote a more efficient international patent system". Although this Action Strategy for the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights will mainly focus on issues such as piracy and counterfeiting, there may be implications for innovative companies "offering public-private partnerships to protect intellectual property".

The statement also strengthens and extends the exchange programmes in higher education, and notes the arrival of FP7 and similar initiatives addressing innovation in the US. "We pledge to keep our investment regimes open and to build on existing investment flows to boost growth and create jobs in the transatlantic economy. We will address obstacles to transatlantic investment with a view to promoting closer economic integration."

The statement should increase opportunities for researchers on both sides of the Atlantic to tap into both EU and US funding strands, and accelerate research in these areas.

For further information please read the joint declaration: http://www.eu2006.at/includes/
Download_Dokumente/2106EUUSDeclaration.pdf

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