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Research and innovation

Multilateral dialogue on principles and values

What the multilateral dialogue is, its aims, work done so far and workshop reports

What is the multilateral dialogue on principles and values?

The multilateral dialogue on principles and values for international research is one of the key elements of Europe’s new strategy on international cooperation in research and innovation as set out in the Commission Communication on the Global Approach. It was strongly supported by EU Member States through specific Council conclusions in 2022, following a Ministerial conference organised under the French Presidency.

The principles and values which should underpin international research and innovation cooperation are discussed in an open dialogue with the EU’s key partner countries around the world.

The dialogue aims to identify commonalities, discuss differences, and learn from each other’s experiences.

By acknowledging the different approaches and priorities around the world, we hope to move towards a shared understanding and implementation of fundamental principles and values.

How the dialogue takes place and what has been done so far

The Multilateral Dialogue was launched on 8 July 2022 with a high-level online meeting which brought together 46 countries from around the globe as well as representatives from six European science stakeholder organisations. Sir Peter Gluckman, President of the International Science Council, delivered a keynote speech, situating the multilateral dialogue in the context of the principles and values by which science, scientists and the science system work and interact with society at large.

The multilateral dialogue takes place through online workshops, each focusing on one principle or value, to allow representatives from around the world to attend.

These workshops are co-designed and co-organised with EU Member States and/or international partners, following a call for expressions of interest.

Since October 2022, 8 workshops have taken place, on the following topics

  • academic freedom (report)
  • ethics and research integrity (report)
  • gender equality and inclusiveness (report)
  • open science (report)
  • research excellence (report)
  • knowledge valorisation (report)
  • research security (report)
  • encouraging equitable research and innovation partnerships with low- and middle-income countries (report)

A second high-level meeting was held in Brussels on 28 June 2023 and attended by representatives of 42 countries, 7 European stakeholder organisations, the OECD and the International Science Council. Keynote addresses were given by Shuichi Sakamoto (about the May 2023 meeting of G7 Science and Technology Ministers in Japan) and by Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO.

The meeting reviewed the work carried out under the Multilateral Dialogue to date and reflected on the future direction and development of joint activities in the future, in view of a discussion at Ministerial level which took place on 16 February 2024 in Brussels, hosted by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

International ministerial conference 

The international ministerial conference on 16 February 2024, was a key milestone in the Multilateral Dialogue on principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation. It was attended by Ministers or their representatives from 57 countries, including the 27 EU Member States, 15 countries associated or negotiating association to Horizon Europe, 15 international cooperation partner countries, as well as representatives of the OECD, UNESCO, and the International Science Council. In addition, 16 stakeholder organisations representing the European academic and scientific communities were invited to attend the event in an online format.

Participants explained their countries’ priorities and policies for international research and innovation cooperation and reflected on responsible responses to the rapid development of new and emerging technologies and the increasingly challenging global environment.

There was broad consensus on the importance of shared principles and values in international research and innovation cooperation and a good understanding of their different cultural contexts. Importantly, apart from providing political recognition at international level of the work carried under the Multilateral Dialogue to date, the conference endorsed* the Ministerial Statement on principles and values for international cooperation in research and innovation, the Brussels Statement.

* The Republic of Türkiye endorsed the Ministerial statement without the Annex.

A quick overview of the Multilateral Dialogue by Maria Cristina Russo, Director in the European Commission for the Global Approach & International Cooperation in Research & Innovation.