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Western Balkans countries and Moldova also join Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme

Five Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), and the Republic of Moldova today secured full access to the European Union's new seven year research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The six countries signed association agreements in Brussels together with Robert-Jan Smits, Director-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission. All six countries have experience of cooperation on research and innovation with the EU through the seventh framework programme (FP7), and are seeking to build on this under Horizon 2020.

Under FP7, the last programme (2007-2013) over 1,000 participations from Turkish public and private institutions in some 950 projects received almost € 200 million in EU funding. These included world-class science projects selected by the European Research Council and support for younger researchers under the Marie-Sklodowska Curie Actions. There were also more than 200 participations in joint research projects by Turkish Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

In parallel to the agreement reached with Turkey, the EU is in the process of concluding association agreements with enlargement countries from the Western Balkans and other neighbouring countries. The EEA/EFTA states of Norway and Iceland joined Horizon 2020 at the beginning of May.

Horizon 2020 is programme for financing European research and innovation. Through Horizon 2020, the Euroean Commission (EC) aims at increasing Europe's competitive position by strengthening scientific knowledge and by stimulating innovation. In addition, the EC wants to challenge business and academia to collaborate in creating solutions for pan-European societal challenges, such as climate change, ageing population, food safety & security and affordable renewable energy. The programme is based on 3 pillars: Excellent Science, Industrial Leadership and Societal Challenges.

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