European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: 'The agreements signed today are good for these countries and good for the European Union. Increased cooperation in research and innovation will create new opportunities for growth, competitiveness and jobs in all our economies. Association to Horizon 2020 will facilitate the mobility of excellent scientists, strengthen national research systems, and help the countries integrate into the European Research Area.'
Researchers, businesses and other research partners from the six countries are already well embedded in EU research projects and networks. The fact that all the countries are associating at the same time will also increase the opportunities for regional cooperation, To get the most out of Horizon 2020, all six countries need to build upon their experience of FP7 and strengthen national research and innovation capacities. Although participation of SMEs is still limited, the number of small enterprises engaging in research and innovation is increasing, which is another good step towards successful participation in Horizon 2020 given the programme's greater focus on the entire innovation chain, from the lab to the market.
The association agreements, which will apply retroactively as from 1 January 2014, will allow research and innovation entities from Moldova and all five Western Balkan Countries to take advantage of the funding opportunities offered under Horizon 2020 right from the start. Horizon 2020 runs from 2014 to 2020. Including these recent signatures, 10 countries are now associated to Horizon 2020.