The European Union's neighbouring regions are, in various ways and for a number of reasons, in turmoil. To the East, the Eastern partnership has been called into question, especially by the long-standing crisis in Ukraine and difficult and uncertain relations with Russia. In the South-East, the EU's relationship with Turkey has increasingly come under strain, while at Turkey's border the conflict in Syria and the ravage of Islamic State armies have created high degrees of instability. In the Western Balkans, the accession processes of several candidate countries remain challenging. Finally, the East and South Mediterranean region has been the theatre of profound and intricate transformations ever since the "Arab revolutions" of 2010/11.
Against this backdrop, it is fair to observe that the aim of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) to develop closer relations between the EU and its neighbours, to avoid the emergence of new dividing lines and to strengthen the prosperity, stability and security of all, remains unfulfilled. More than ten years after its inception, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)[[The European Neighbourhood Policy covers Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Palestine (this designation does not entail any recognition of Palestine as a state and is without prejudice to positions on the recognition of Palestine as a state), Syria, Tunisia and Ukraine.]] is under review in 2015[[See the results of the consultation on the future of the ENP: http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/neighbourhood/consultation/index_en.htm]].
The challenge is therefore to coordinate all available scientific information on these countries in order to better inform the definition and implementation of the new ENP and develop concrete actions for cultural and science diplomacy as an instrument for reinforcing co-ownership and shared understanding with and within the EU Neighbourhood. Considering the protracted conflicts both in the East and in the South, it is expected that science diplomacy can help build bridges across borders and cultures, particularly where other mechanisms are not feasible or less effective.
This coordination and support action should provide a stock-taking and critical review of all available research results on the European Union's neighbouring regions, including on science diplomacy related actions[[For EU research, see, for instance, FP7 projects CASCADE (http://www.cascade-caucasus.eu/) and ISSICEU (http://www.issiceu.eu/) on the Caucasus and ARAB-TRANS (www.arabtrans.eu/), SAHWA (www.sahwa.eu/), POWER2YOUTH (www.power2youth.eu/) on the Mediterranean; the call "Europe as a Global Actor" under the Societal Challenge 6 Work Programme 2014/2015; Research and Innovation in support of the European Neighbourhood Policy" (http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/ publications/neighbourhood_policy.pdf) and other relevant initiative such as PRIMA (Partnership in Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area - the Commission is in the process of launching the preparatory stages for legislative proposal to assess an initiative under Article 185 TFEU).
]]. It should synthesise knowledge regarding each of the neighbouring countries and regions, taking full account of the diversities of the studied entities, and compare transformation experiences both from an EU and a third country perspective, across time. In so doing, it should understand the success and failures of diplomatic efforts in the regions. It should also consider relevant results of international cooperation projects involving neighbourhood countries and all relevant existing legal instruments in various policy areas (e.g. energy), take into account the role of other state (e.g. US, Russia, and neighbours of the neighbours) and non-state actors in the various neighbouring regions.
On this basis, this coordination and support action should analyse the role science diplomacy can play and where it could be best deployed in contributing to stability, security and prosperity. It should identify concrete obstacles for science diplomacy in the concerned regions (e.g. the issue of reduced academic mobility due to on-going or frozen conflicts, visa restrictions and security controls, etc. which leads to very limited opportunities for visiting scientists and scholars). It should also provide insights into the role and relevance of the neighbours of the neighbours and non-state actors in the various neighbouring regions as well as to whether science diplomacy should be `silent diplomacy` (low profile) or could be more effective with more visibility. Supplementary research could be envisaged in order to cover the internal-external policies nexus and the role of science diplomacy in tackling some of the most urgent common challenges e.g. conflict prevention and management, job creation and migration, food and energy security, environment and climate change, radicalisation, health pandemics.
Based on lessons learnt, first elements of policy recommendations should be provided.
It should liaise between projects, provide fora for debate and discussion, and disseminate project findings to relevant stakeholders, including policy-makers, social partners and civil society organizations in Europe and third countries. It should draw lessons and provide policy-making recommendations that combine general observations about the Union's neighbourhood strategies and policies with regional and country-specific scenarios. The differences and similarities between the studied regions and their historical ties with Europe and the EU Member States should be duly accounted for.
Wider participation of the targeted region/s is encouraged, including practitioners from the fields of diplomacy, policy making and media.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
This coordination and support action will result in a consolidated corpus of knowledge on science diplomacy in service of the European Neighbourhood Policy as well as research insights in how it could be best deployed in the challenging context of the EU Neighbourhood. It will put together a set of recommendations for EU science diplomacy strategies, policies and concrete actions in these regions and provide an assessment of these activities against criteria that it will develop. Based on these policy-relevant insights, the coordination and support action will feed research insights into the future development of EU science diplomacy in the neighbourhood with an eye to reinforcing stability, promoting democracy and prosperity in its near abroad. It will ensure a wide dissemination of these results to the relevant stakeholders including policy-makers.
Delegation Exception Footnote:
This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders. It is excluded from the delegation to Research Executive Agency and will be implemented by the Commission services.
European Union, 1995-2015. Responsibility of the adaptation lies entirely with IncubatorEurope, Brussels.