Commission publishes a toolkit to help mitigate foreign interference in research and innovation

The European Commission published a toolkit on how to mitigate foreign interference in research and innovation. The publication outlines best practices to support EU Higher Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations in safeguarding their fundamental values, including academic freedom, integrity and institutional autonomy, as well as to protect their staff, students, research findings and assets.

International networks of academic and technological cooperation play an essential role in finding solutions to our global challenges. At the same time, the expansion of activities involves a number of risks and challenges that research and innovation actors must take into account.

This publication provides a toolkit that can help EU Higher Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations to develop a comprehensive strategy for tackling risks and challenges from abroad that covers key areas of attention grouped into four categories: values, governance, partnerships and cybersecurity.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Together with the Member States and research and innovation partners across Europe, we have developed a useful toolkit to help us protect our fundamental values, key research findings and intellectual assets. Raising awareness and implementing preventive measures is key to tackle threats of foreign intrusion that target critical vulnerabilities and extend across all research activities, scientific domains, research outputs, researchers and innovators.”

The non-exhaustive list of possible mitigation measures can help R&I actors develop a comprehensive approach to tackling foreign interference that can comprise four phases: awareness-raising, prevention, response and recovery, ensuring a balance between risk reduction and resilience enhancement while ensuring effective response and recovery capabilities.

The publication is co-created with Member States and research and innovation stakeholders and contributes to the European Research Area Policy Agenda action on academic freedom.

As set out in the Communication ‘The Global Approach to R&I’, the EU pursues a positive agenda of partnership dealing with differences in a constructive way.


Foreign interference occurs when activities are carried out by, or on behalf of, a foreign state-level actor, which are coercive, covert, deceptive, or corrupting and are contrary to the sovereignty, values, and interests of the European Union.

Scientific research is a collaborative process by nature in which researchers and organisations typically build upon existing research and collaborate to further scientific development. Higher Education Institutions and Research Performing Organisations are of particular interest to foreign actors due to their prominent role in society, their co-operation with the public, private, and third sectors, and their creation of knowledge and innovative new technologies that are crucial for tackling societal challenges and ensuring prosperity and are often relevant for dual civil and military usages.

This document has been co-created with Member States and stakeholders and is meant as an inventory of best practices and collection of evidence, which is neither exhaustive nor binding.

More information

Publication: Tackling R&I Foreign Interference

Commission Communication on the Global Approach to Research and Innovation

ERA Policy Agenda

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