The European Union and South Africa have long been committed to strategic cooperation in science and technology, dating back to their 1996 Cooperation Agreement, which facilitated cooperation under the Framework Programmes. South Africa has also concluded several bilateral cooperation agreements with EU Member States.
South Africa is aiming to create a robust national system of innovation to enable its transition to a knowledge economy, achieving sustained growth and development. On the other hand, the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative provides a new innovation policy context for the EU with an emphasis on addressing global societal challenges, increasing European competitiveness, and attracting research talents and investments to Europe. South Africa and the EU, thus, share similar objectives and there is rich potential for cooperation in innovation to complement their substantial trade, innovation and development cooperation.
Building on the work of earlier BILAT actions, ESASTAP PLUS will support the deepening of scientific and technological cooperation with a special focus on innovation. This will achieved by supporting South Africa s participation in the Framework Programmes, but also reciprocal European participation in South African programmes. Specific input will be provided to enrich the bilateral policy dialogue, notably to identify priority areas for mutually beneficial cooperation. A major focus will be to target coordination of Member States and Associated Countries’ research policies and programmes vis-a-vis South Africa, encouraging the development of new joint initiatives implemented by several countries. Synergy between different EU cooperation initiatives will also be encouraged, e.g. between development cooperation and research programmes. All activities will be undertaken to ensure sustainable impact, including ownership of initiatives by stakeholders.