Bilateral Agreements | JPI OCEANS

Bilateral Agreements

Tackling societal challenges implies a regional/multilateral approach and this is reflected by the long experience of cooperation between member states, related to historical, geographical and economic matters. This cooperation has been mainly developed on a bilateral approach, whereby the geographic scope or operational area, the objectives and goals to achieve jointly are defined for the implementation of the activities.


The bilateral approach of cooperation, as developed within the Scientific and Technology (S&T) Agreements, is mainly adopted by the research funding/performing organizations (RFO/RPO). Though most of the objectives of the agreements can be considered as of common interest for more than two partners, the actions related to these S&T Bilateral Agreements are not synchronized and systematically interlinked.

When the implementation of some actions of JPI Oceans requires the involvement of the RPO/RFO, as highly probable, a multi-lateral and integrated approach is largely required. The networking between the bilateral agreements, decided at the highest level, can therefore largely increase the efficiency and avoid unnecessary duplications. The bilateral agreements are often very vague in the definition of the topics to be addressed. These are indeed defined successively and on a temporally cadence during the implementation phase. In practice, bilateral agreements can be considered as "limited" Research Alliances without a specific product to be delivered.

A possible intervention by JPI Oceans can be to start a dialogue within the bilateral agreements for common issues and promote the synchronization and coordination of their activities. The idea is not to burden with additional load for changing text or practice in existing bilateral agreements but to bring the actors involved in their implementation phase to define and manage the activities in order to create a virtual multi-lateral programme. The networking between the bilateral agreements can be considered as a first action towards the alignment of policies and programmes at the level of RFO/RPO. A proposal for the procedure to act in described in the table below.



Mapping the relevant organizations.


Mapping the bilateral agreements and their possible link with JPI Oceans' objectives.


Contacting the responsible persons for the implementation of the bilateral agreements for information gathering and availability of cooperation.


Analyzing the activities and procedures for the implementation (for feasibility of common or complementary issues and synchronized evaluation).


Defining specific topics to be proposed to bilateral agreements, the impacts and indicators for the process.


Sending a proposal for networking on specific topics to the legal responsible persons of the bilateral agreements, including the financial aspects for funding the bridging of activities and for the flowchart of information.


Management of information from the implementation of the activities.


If agreed, selection of panel of experts (accordingly to a standard procedure as in deliverable D2.3 or to be negotiated with the partners of the bilateral agreements)


If necessary, commitment of funds for bridging activities.


If agreed, common evaluation of projects

Secretariat/panel of experts

If agreed, workshop for networking activities.


Evaluation of results and process


Table 1: procedure for supporting the networking of bilateral agreements in order to avoid duplications and to create synergies though the adoption of common objectives, evaluation panels and supporting bridging activities between projects and participants independently funded at national level. The same procedure could be adopted to promote networking between ERANETS.

Motivation and Initiation

European funding/performing organizations have so far set up numerous bilateral agreements, with other European RFO/RPO and non-EU countries. Despite that, in many EU countries bilateral cooperation represents a long lasting practice, its initiation and implementation rarely follow institutionalized and common procedures. Especially in terms of motivation for formalizing a new agreement and of circumstances driving for its stepping up. In terms of motivation, examples put into practice include common challenges, common vision and interests, political and strategic objectives, as well as the "collaborative" attitude of researchers, while in terms of circumstances examples are the stable and "historical" collaborations among countries and institutions, official and unofficial meetings between RFO/RPO representatives, conferences and seminars. The signature of the agreement is made by the presidents of both organizations, and it is made in both official languages of the organizations and in English.

Bilateral Agreements' Structure

A sort of "common structure" is usually followed by each organization. It is possible to underline some common aspects that many bilateral agreements include.

Agreements' Implementation

The implementation of the actions included in the agreement is defined in general term in the agreement and can be further detailed in the addendum, in particular regarding the financial aspects, the publication of the call for proposals and its timetable, the procedure for evaluating and funding research projects.


JPI Oceans AISBL  •   Rue du Trône 4, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel. +32 (0)2 626 16 60   •
Website developed and maintained by VLIZ | Privacy and Cookie policy