Iceland and Norway have signed up to join the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
In doing so, the Scandinavian nations have become the first countries outside the EU to associate with the seven-year initiative. The decision, which was made at a European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Committee meeting, allows companies and researchers from Iceland and Norway to participate in the same way their EU counterparts do, said the EU in a statement.
In return, the two northern nations will inject funds into Horizon 2020, which was launched at the beginning of the year with a budget of almost 80bn euros over seven years starting this year and finishing 2020.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn said that science is global and numerous challenges faced can only be solved through research and innovation. She added that this is why more countries must work together and be associated with Horizon 2020.
The EU statement said that the two countries will bring an excellent science base to Horizon 2020 as well as their “clear strengths in specific fields”. It went on to say that Iceland has “unique” knowledge on geothermal energy production while its research capacities on marine biodiversity and climate change will also benefit Europe.
It added that Norwegian scientists are looking into global challenges like the environment, oceans, climate change, energy research and food safety.