Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
February 17, 2005
U.S.-EU Cooperation in Science and Technology
Science and technology contribute significantly to the economic growth and quality of life in the United States and Europe. The strong economic performance of the U.S. in recent years has demonstrated the value of a knowledge-based economy, one in which research, its commercial applications, and other intellectual activities play an important role in driving economic growth and prosperity. Similarly, the European Union (EU) has set a goal of becoming "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010." The EU hopes to increase R&D spending from two to three percent of Gross Domestic Product as one component to achieving this goal.
The U.S. and the European Union have a strong tradition of cooperation in science and technology. (Indeed, the discovery of the structure of DNA by James Watson (American) and Francis Crick (British) serves as a reminder of the benefits of such cooperative activities.) These interactions occur at many levels and involve government agencies, commercial enterprises, academic institutions, and professional societies, as well as individual scientists and students. As an illustration of the strength of these interactions, research and development expenditures by European-owned firms in the U.S. reached $18.6 billion for the year 2000, while spending by U.S. firms in Europe totaled $12.9 billion.
In October 2004, the United States and the European Union signed a five-year renewal of their "Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation." The U.S. also has bilateral agreements with Finland, Italy, Hungary and Spain (as well as less-formal scientific interactions with other European countries). These agreements serve as the legal umbrella under which U.S. and European scientists from universities, industry and government agencies undertake cooperative research in areas as diverse as climate change and the hydrogen economy, earthquake engineering and disaster mitigation, endocrine disrupters, aging, childrenís health, energy, space, biotechnology, bioethics, food safety, vaccines, and infectious diseases. Many science-focused U.S. government agencies including the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Geodetic Survey have major research arrangements with the EU under the S&T Agreement.
Some areas of collaboration include:
Energy for the Future
Energy - The U.S. Department of Energy has signed agreements with the European Commission (EC) in conjunction with the European atomic energy community (EURATOM) on non-nuclear energy, computer code development for real time measurements, fusion energy, and research and development on nuclear materials safeguards.
Hydrogen economy - The U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, and State are working with the European Commission to combine research efforts to produce hydrogen-based economies on both sides of the Atlantic. As part of this effort, the U.S., with the European Commission and member state support, opened the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy to bring together the United States, the European Community and fifteen countries (including France, Germany, Italy, and the UK) in collaborative research to overcome technological roadblocks to the hydrogen economy.
ITER - In 2003, the U.S. rejoined the project to build the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor to prove the science and develop the technology needed to use fusion power as an energy source. The U.S. is committed to the multilateral framework for building and operating ITER to develop the potential of this promising technology.
Carbon sequestration - In June 2003, the United States in collaboration with the European Commission, EU member states and other partners formed the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum to find ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases from the large number of coal-fired power plants worldwide by extracting CO2 and sequestering it underground. The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum now has 17 members, including the U.S. and the European Community. EU members include France, Germany, Italy, and the UK. In 2004 the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum recognized a first selection of ten collaborative projects being undertaken by Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum members. A program related to the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum is FutureGen, a $1 billion project to develop and prototype test an emissions-free, coal-fired, sequestered power plant to generate electricity and hydrogen.
Improving Human Health and Quality of Life
Biotechnology - The U.S.-EC Task Force on Biotechnology has implemented several agreements and programs, such as the EUís neo-vaccine program and the USDA Memorandum of Understanding with Franceís INRA (Institute National De La Recherche Agonomique) on Genomic Research.
Quality of Life - The EUís Directorate General for Information Society is developing collaborative research with the U.S. Department of Educationís National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation on the Web Accessibility Initiative, "Design for All," and technology transfer for assistive research and development.
Galileo - The U.S. and the EU in June 2004 signed an important agreement covering the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the planned European Galileo satellite navigation system. The agreement protects U.S. and allied European military access to GPS in an area of hostilities. It also enhances cooperation across a range of civilian satellite navigation areas and provides for compatibility and interoperability of the U.S. and EU systems for civilian users.