Through its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU works with its southern and eastern neighbours to achieve the closest possible political association and the greatest possible degree of economic integration. This goal builds on common interests and on values — democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and social cohesion. The ENP is a key part of the European Union's foreign policy.
For the Eastern neighours, the Eastern Partnership (EaP) was established as a joint initiative involving the EU, its member states and 6 eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It is based on a commitment to the principles of international law and fundamental values - democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. It also encompasses support for a market economy, sustainable development and good governance.
The EU and partner countries leaders meet every other year in Eastern Partnership Summits. The latest Eastern partnership Summit Declaration, agreed in May 2015 in Riga, reviewed the cooperation and provided the direction for further joint action. In December 2016, EaP countries committed in a Joint Staff Working Document to adopt at least one smart specialisation by 2020.
Smart specialisation strategies are an expression of sound innovation policies and as such are of interest not only to EU member states, but also to non-EU countries willing to improve their innovation ecosystems. To support participatory and evidence-based processes in the EU Neighbourhood countries, the S3 Platform developed a pilot project that supports the early preparatory phases of the development of research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation in two of the EU neighbouring countries - Moldova and Ukraine.
Both of the pilot neighbourhood countries are at the early stages of developing of their innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) and need targeted support in mapping their economic and research fabric, internally organising a coherent approach, and mobilising and coordinating relevant stakeholders through an entrepreneurial discovery process. The support provided should enable local stakeholders to gain the competences needed for continuing strategy design and implementation in the future. Exchange of good practices among the pilot targeted countries of the S3 Platform activities can provide additional insights for the development of RIS3 outside the EU.
The pilot project is currently entering the operational phase. The S3 Platform together with an expert team and local partners is preparing a mapping of economic, scientific and innovation potentials with the target countries. At a three-day meeting in Chisinau (MD) on 5-7 April 2017, policy-makers and analysts from partner countries confirmed their strong commitment for this eviden-based and particpatory process. The mapping results will serve as a basis for planning and implementing a series of stakeholder dialogues to jointly devolop detailed priority domains and cross-sectoral niches.