The EU's Framework Programmes for Research and Innovation are generally open to participation from non-EU countries (sometimes also referred to as 'Third Countries'). In turn, the EU's agreements on scientific and technological cooperation with non-EU countries require these to open their national programmes to EU researchers. The ACCESS4.EU projects were intended to monintor, analyse and strengthen the implementation of this reciprocal opening.

The Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development (FP7), which ran form 2007-2013, placed more emphasis on international cooperation in Science and Technology (S&T) than its predecessors – an area that was increasingly seen as being at the centre of Community policies. International cooperation in FP7 addressed three independent objectives:

  • supporting European competitiveness through strategic partnerships with scientists in third countries in selected fields to work in and with Europe;
  • facilitating contacts with partners in third countries with the aim of providing better access to excellent research carried other parts of the world;
  • tackling the specific challenges faced by third countries, problems, together with strategic partners in third countries.

Theme-oriented international cooperation actions were carried out under the Cooperation Programme and international mobility actions under the People Programme. The Capacities Programme’s activities were designed to support and stimulate the participation of Third Countries in the Framework Programme, well as provide opportunities to access research programmes managed by Third Countries. They fostered international cooperation by putting measures in place to promote dialogue and information exchange activities with Third Countries in order to enable the EU and targeted states/ regions outside Europe discuss current and future research priorities.

This unique instrument aimed at increasing European researchers’ awareness of funding opportunities for international research projects with Third Countries.

More specifically, the ACCESS4.EU projects were meant to facilitate access to national research and innovation programmes in:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • India
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Russia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • United States of America

These projects were supposed to translate into a measurable increase of European research organisations’ effective cooperation with Third Countries, as well as less readily measurable improvements in mutual understanding of the respective research systems. In this respect, the projects contributed to the implementation of the agreements by identifying the different funding programmes open to EU researchers and promote their participation, i.e. developing the reciprocity aspects of S&T agreements.

New funding opportunities

In practical terms, the ACCESS4.EU-funded projects started by mapping out the access opportunities in the aforementioned target countries. This empirical research included the screening of bilateral cooperation agreements and programmes between European Member States and/or Associated Countries and the target country participating in the respective project. Funding opportunities open to European researchers were compiled in the RTDI programme database, which was available online and open to all. After the end of the projects, the information in the database soon became obsolete, as it wasn't updated any longer, and so the database was discontinued.

For more information on ACCESS4.EU please download the brochure and factsheet from the box on the right.