Evaluation and further development of the Multilateral Dialogues of the EU

Exchange about the values and principles of international cooperation with partners from around the world is of great importance in terms of science diplomacy, even more so in times of crisis and conflicts. In June 2023, a high-level meeting organised by the EU Commission took place with representatives of EU Member States and partner countries around the world. During the meeting, participants assessed the relevance and effectiveness of the Multilateral Dialogues and discussed ways to further develop the format.

In the first half of 2023, the European Commission implemented Multilateral Dialogues (MD) on values and principles for international cooperation in research and innovation through five thematic online workshops as part of the EU Global Approach. Participants included representatives from the EU-27, Horizon Europe associated countries and countries with S&T cooperation agreements with the EU, including China, Brazil, India and the USA.

On 28 June 2023, the EU Commission organised a high level meeting with representatives of the EU member states (BMBF/Unit 223 on behalf of Germany) and partner countries worldwide, exchanging views on the current dialogues and ideas for further developing the exchange format. There was agreement that the Multilateral Dialogues are useful, even if no concrete results were achieved.

Especially in times of a geopolitical changes, a conscious engagement with partner countries worldwide, including with countries outside one’s own value system, on the principles and values of the global science system is very important. This was also the outcome of a previous online exchange in preparation of the meeting, held between the BMBF and the Alliance organisations in Germany, in which DAAD Brussels participated.

Participants of the high-level meeting argued that future dialogues should be more results-driven, without duplicating existing formats (OECD, UNESCO, etc.). For example, by developing roadmaps and frameworks, similarities betweeen the countries could be highlighted, differences better be understood and possibly common minimum standards could be established.

The relevance of the Multilateral Dialogues for DAAD related to the high value of foreign science policy and international exchange, even in times of growing instability. In politically difficult times, academic cooperation and exchange can create sustainable ties and maintain access when understanding on other levels fails. Dialogues on the values and principles of international cooperation with partners worldwide are therefore of crucial importance, especially in times of crisis and conflict.

The previous workshops within the Multilateral Dialogues format on Scientific Freedom, Research Ethics/Integrity, Gender Equality/Inclusion, Open Science and Research Excellence will be complemented by three additional virtual dialogues in Autumn 2023, on Knowledge Valorisation, Partnership with lower-income countries and Research Security. Moreover, a ministerial conference on the Multilateral Dialogues is planned for 16.02.24 in the framework of the Belgian Council Presidency, with the participation of partner countries worldwide.

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