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Bilateral Cooperation in the Researchers Mobility Sphere between EU MS/AC and Russia

Currently the Russian Federation is involved into a wide range of academic mobility cooperation programmes, implemented at the national levels of the EU Member States. Typically the international mobility between Russia and EU is implemented through bilateral agreements between EU MS and Russia, their research organisations, including those that belong to academies of sciences and universities, research foundations (e.g. Russian Foundation of Basic Research and DFG, CNRS), national programmes of the EU MS research centres and associations (DAAD, Helmholtz Association and Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, Academy of Finland, CNRS, ect.). Moreover, Russia participates in international programmes (COST, ISTC, NATO).

Mobility is also a part of some international research projects implemented in collaboration with the EU partners. The EU and Russian researches travel abroad mainly with the purposes of participation in conferences, carrying out of joint research projects, education and training, scientific work in foreign organisations, delivering of lectures and consulting.

Under the ongoing ERA-Net project for Russia (ERA.Net RUS), which is funded by the FP7 INCO programme information and data on the bilateral S&T cooperation programmes were gathered by means of a survey. Around 140 Programme Owners (PO) in Russia and in nearly all EU MS/AC were contacted in the summer and autumn of 2009 and invited to respond to a questionnaire covering a broad range of aspects of their cooperation programmes, such as S&T agreements, programme management, funding instruments, evaluation procedures, the budget, thematic priorities, funded projects, mobility activities, etc. The ERA.Net RUS report includes the survey data of a solid sample of 40 Programme Owners from EU MS/AC and the data of 10 Russian Programme Owners. The survey data were further enhanced by in-depth interviews with 8 Russian and 13 EU MS/AC Programme Owners. http://www.eranet-rus.eu/_media/D_1.3_Analytical_Report_3.pdf

The bilateral S&T agreements provide a formal framework, within which efficient cooperation programmes can be implemented. The Russian Academy of Sciences has the most agreements in place with partners in 28 EU MS/AC, followed by the Ministry of Education and Science, which has concluded bilateral agreements with 21 EU MS/AC, and third comes the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, which has agreements with organisations in 12 EU MS/AC in place.

According to the results of the survey the most popular instruments of international S&T cooperation that the POs have used so far are: mobility of researchers : 30 references; joint implementation of RTDI 21 projects: 23 references; and the joint funding of programmes: 21 references; the dissemination of RTDI results: 21 references.

The mobility of researchers is an easy way of networking and can be a preliminary stage of using other instruments. It provides for substantial S&T cooperation requiring only limited expenses, which is the reason for its popularity. The vast majority of the programme owners (POs) implement “two-way” mobility whereby their cooperation programmes support the exchange of EU MS/AC scientists as well as of Russian scientists (22 replies for two-way and only 3 for one way mobility, the rest of the POs did not clarify the nature of the mobility). The joint implementation of RTDI projects is also quite frequently used. It is in fact difficult to draw an exact line between mobility and RTDI projects, as mobility projects are in most cases based on research projects, or the mobility is supported within a research project.

In some cases, the funding of mobility projects serves the purpose of investigating the prospects for joint research projects.

A variety of obstacles, such as legal problems, budgetary limitations, problems with the transfer of funds and material, visa procedures , cultural and language barriers, have been mentioned by funding organisations, which do hamper the bilateral cooperation. But there is also a distinct lack of information on bilateral cooperation programmes and on the funding procedures applied by POs.

The visa requirement for EU/AC scientists travelling to Russia and vice versa for Russian scientists travelling to the EU/AC region is a question of reciprocal treatment between countries. It needs to be considered by the competent authorities of the EU, EU Member States, Associated Countries of FP7 and Russia. Several measures for facilitating visa procedures have been taken already (e.g. cost-free scientific visa) but clearly further measures such as a visa-free travel policy for scientists should be considered as a solution to this problem, which is consistently mentioned as a most pressing problematic issue by scientists as well as S&T funding bodies.

Examples of good practice mentioned by POs concern support for research and networking activities among scientists, such as workshops, joint laboratories, research training groups, and science days. 

 

 

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