EU Council has adopted a recommendation on enhancing research security to support the Commission and member states to address research security risks deriving from international cooperation.

The Council has adopted a Council recommendation on enhancing research security. The main objective of the recommendation is to support the Commission and member states to address research security risks deriving from international cooperation. The recommendation identifies risks relating mainly to the areas of undesirable transfer of knowledge, foreign interference, and ethical or integrity violations. The recommendation does not contain binding provisions but offers guidance for measures that could be taken by the Commission, the member states and the research community.

This recommendation has been a priority for the Belgian Presidency in the field of research and innovation. While we are open to knowledge exchange and international cooperation in the field of research, we should not be naïve. The changing geopolitical context urgently requires our joint response to avoid a use of our own research against our security or our values. The scientific community needs guidance without delay.

Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia and Minister for Economic Affairs, Foreign Trade, Research and Innovation, the Digital Economy, Spatial Planning, Agriculture, IFAPME (Walloon institute for ongoing and freelance training and SMEs) and competence centres

Main elements of the recommendation

The text adopted today by the Council includes a general call for awareness raising and offers guidance to assess risks and enhance research security when engaging in research cooperation with international partners. The text is divided in three blocs: recommendations addressed to both Commission and member states, recommendations to member states and recommendations to the Commission.

Recommendation to both member states and the Commission:

The Council recommends that the Commission and member states take into consideration key principles for responsible internationalisation when designing and implementing policy actions to enhance research security, such as academic freedom and institutional autonomy. When it comes to international research and innovation (R&I) cooperation with partners in non-EU countries, this should be done in a way that is both open and secure, in line with the principle ‘as open as possible, as closed as necessary’, and with consideration to applicable restrictions. Other principles to be considered are proportionality of safeguard measures, non-discrimination, and respect of fundamental rights. Measures to safeguard research security should avoid protectionism and unjustified political instrumentalisation.

Recommendations to member states

The text adopted today includes fourteen recommendations to member states to enhance research security, including: the development of a national approaches which may include the formulation 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 recommendation also includes a dedicated set of proposed measures on member states’ engagement with research funding organisations and research performing organisations.

Recommendations to the Commission

Finally, the document includes eleven recommendations for the 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 will be done by the Commission, in cooperation with the 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 is foreseen for mid-2025. The Commission can make use of the existing European Research Area (ERA) governance structures.


On 24 January 2024, the Commission issued a proposal for a Council recommendation on enhancing research security, as part of a package of proposals on economic security. The proposal for recommendation was preceded by a “call for evidence” launched by the Commission for the period 6 December 2023 – 3 January 2024.


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