Exploring the performance gap in EU Framework Programmes between EU13 and EU15 Member States

The European Union (EU)'s Research and Innovation Framework Programmes are the largest programmes for international research collaboration worldwide. Repeated reports point to the issue of underperformance in the Framework Programmes by the EU13 Member States - countries that joined the EU in and after 2004 - in comparison with the EU15 Member States - which entered the EU before 2004. This in-depth analysis explores the background of various challenges in research and development of EU13 vs EU15, in order to investigate the gap between these two groups. A set of hypotheses, divided in five domains, are tested empirically. This includes: research and innovation system structure; scientific level of research institutions and quality of proposals; quantity of submitted proposals; level of international collaboration; and other factors related to the Framework Programmes. The weak positions of most EU13 Member States for several of the indicators analysed, show that the field of research in EU13 Member States requires further structural changes. This report is followed by policy options for mitigating the innovation gap in Europe.


This paper presents an exploration of the challenges faced in research and development (R&D) in the EU13 and consequently their lower participation and success rates in the FPs compared to the EU15.

A number of hypotheses have been developed under five domains, with each being empirically tested:

1. R&I systems

Hypothesis 1 - Relative weakness of the research and innovation (R&I) systems of the EU13 compared to the EU15.

2. Scientific level of the EU13 R&D institutions and quality of proposals from the EU13

Hypothesis 2 - Relative lack of scientific excellence in institutions from the EU13 compared to the EU15.

Hypothesis 3 - The quality of proposals involving EU13 participants is lower than those that do not involve them.

3. Quantity of proposals from EU13 participants and alternative funding

Hypothesis 4 - EU13 organisations submit fewer proposals than EU15 organisations.

Hypothesis 5 - Participants in the EU13 have greater means of accessing alternative funding.

4. Collaboration and networks

Hypothesis 6 - The level of internationalisation in the EU13 is weaker than that of the EU15.

Hypothesis 7 - Participants from the EU13 have weaker connections to the collaboration network in FPs than those from the EU15.

5. The framework programme

Hypothesis 8 - The problem of FP participation is related to the specific funding schemes of the FPs.

Hypothesis 9 - The EU13 have an insufficient influence on the work programmes of the FPs.

Data were extracted from numerous sources, such as the European innovation scoreboard, the E-corda database, the Eurostat database and other European Commission databases. Following  analysis,  a  number  of  policy  options  were  drawn-up to  provide  direction on the potential ways in  which the disproportionate participation and success rates in FPs  between EU13 and EU15 MSs could be mitigated.

Document type
  • Report


Publication Year


Geographical focus
  • Europe
  • European Union (EU 28)
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Cross-thematic/Interdisciplinary

Entry created by Admin WBC-RTI.info on June 23, 2020
Modified on June 23, 2020