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Adoption of Council recommendation on research security

Building on the European Commission’s proposal for a Council recommendation on enhancing research security, issued on 24 January 2024 (see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe, January 2024), the Council of the European Union adopted the related recommendation on 23 May 2024, under the leadership of the Belgian Presidency, which had this recommendation as a priority in its research and innovation agenda. 

The recommendation is to serve as a general call for awareness on the need to assess the risks related to research cooperation and strives to provide some guidance (while void of binding provisions), through three sets of recommendations – the first addressed to both the European Commission and member states, the second targeting specifically member states, and the third addressing exclusively the European Commission.  

Under the joint recommendations, the Council outlines 9 key principles for responsible internationalisation that should be considered when designing and implementing policy actions to enhance research security, including elements such as: academic freedom and institutional autonomy, as well as proportionality of safeguard measures, non-discrimination, and respect of fundamental rights, while cautioning to avoid protectionism and unjustified political instrumentalisation.  

The text also includes 14 specific recommendations to member states to enhance research security, including: the development of national approaches (e.g. through the articulation of national guidelines or a list of relevant measures and initiatives); the creation or reinforcement of support services to help actors in the R&I sector to deal with risks related to international cooperation in research; the reinforcement of cross-sectoral cooperation within the government; or the development of the evidence base for research security policymaking.  

The member states’ section is complemented by specific measures for their engagement with research funding organisations and research performing organisations. 

Last, the document includes 11 recommendations for the European Commission to explore and assess options for more structural support, including the option to establish a European Centre of Expertise on Research Security. 

The monitoring of the implementation of the recommendation is to be done by the European Commission, in cooperation with member states. The Commission will report to the Council every two years, relying on the already existing biennial reporting on the global approach to R&I, the next report being foreseen for mid-2025. The Commission is felt the freedom to make use of the existing European Research Area (ERA) governance structures for this purpose.