Bilateral agreements on cooperation in education and research are in place with more than 50 countries (for an overview of agreements and topics see here). As the internationalisation of the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research) policies appears to intensify bilateral cooperation is playing an increasingly central role in the implementation of the BMBF's programmes.
Cooperation with other European countries is a central issue for Germany. Jointly executed projects, within the framework of specialised national and European programmes, are playing an increasingly important role. Bilateral cooperation predominantly takes place within a multilateral framework and is geared towards actively shaping the European Research Area (ERA). Cooperation with Central, Eastern and South East European countries is aimed towards European integration. The enlargement of the EU had no impact on German research policy itself. Changes occurred only in the quality and the alignment of German cooperation with the new Member States. Whereas in the past attention focused on supporting the integration of the accession countries into the EU, the focus is now on cooperation within the European Research Area. Furthermore, the BMBF is seeking to link up participants' respective capabilities in research and development projects which are of mutual interest. According to the BMBF, the future areas of mainly bilateral cooperation with the new EU members are:
Key areas of cooperation currently involve the stimulation and networking of regional innovation initiatives in Central and Eastern European countries along the lines of the BMBF's Inno-Regio Programme and its follow-up programmes, "Innovative regional growth centres" and "Interregional alliances", as well as the wide spectrum of funding measures for innovation in small and medium-sized companies. Apart from holding bi- and multi-lateral meetings of experts, workshops and conferences, the BMBF also supports targeted preparatory measures in order to stimulate cooperation between innovative regions in Germany and the partner countries and to establish interregional cooperation.
Numerous cooperation initiatives have been established with third countries. The USA is Germany's most important scientific and technological cooperation partner among all industrialised countries. With over 50 bilateral cooperation agreements an extensive network of German-American research projects exists. There are collaborations in all areas of research. The key areas are space flight (through the ISS) and environmental technologies. Among the industrial nations, Canada is an increasingly important cooperation partner for Germany in the fields of education and research. Germany's cooperation with Canada focuses on biotechnology and nanotechnology. In future, the subject of sustainability will be integrated more closely into the collaboration.
The Russian Federation is also an important cooperation partner for Germany. Cooperation in research and technology is one of the main pillars of German-Russian relations. Special sectoral agreements have been concluded in various priority areas of cooperation which is a distinctive feature of the German-Russian partnership. The key topics are high-temperature superconductivity, sustainable environmental protection and the efficient use of natural resources, marine and polar research, laser research and laser technology, information and communication technologies, and biological research and biotechnology.
The BMBF actively supports Germany's contacts with the Asia-Pacific region through different measures in education and research policy. For example, currently the exchange of ideas with Japan and South Korea in the area of research and technology are intensified. Germany also maintains bilateral cooperation in the areas of education and research with central and southern America. With regard to the Mediterranean region and Africa Germany's main bilateral cooperation partners in the fields of science and research are Israel, Jordan, Egypt and South Africa. Cooperation with further countries mainly takes place within the framework of the EU's Mediterranean partnership MoCo (Monitoring Committee for the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation).