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European research and international cooperation

DERCI's mission

The European Research and International Cooperation Department (DERCI) implements and promotes CNRS's European and international cooperation policy. Single point of entry for French and foreign institutional partners with regard to the organization's international initiatives, it performs the following missions:

  • selecting thematic and geographical priorities, setting up win-win cooperations and structuring partnerships;
  • making CNRS's international initiatives an essential tool to enhance French research attractiveness and visibility abroad;
  • improving dialog and joining forces with other organizations, universities and alliances to propose coordinated initiatives at the European and international level.

CNRS international strategy

International influence

CNRS's notoriety abroad is illustrated by hundreds of structuring initiatives, which the organization has formalized with its foreign partners. Around 55,000 missions are also carried out throughout the world each year. In addition, over 200 researchers (including secondees) perform research in foreign institutions for durations of one year or over. Joint publications with international partners also bear witness to CNRS's international vitality. They make up over half of the organization's publications.


Around 50 official delegations visit CNRS every year. This testifies to international partners' interest, not only in CNRS laboratories but also in its research organization and governance. With 30% foreign researchers recruited in 2012, CNRS is widely accessible to international scientists.

International cooperation tools

CNRS's international cooperation tools are structured at multiple levels:

  • Joint Research projects make it possible to set up co-financed collaboration between teams from the CNRS and specific international partners.
  • International Programs for Scientific Cooperation (PICS) deal with financing initiatives between teams that have already established links through joint publications or student training programs.
  • International Associated Laboratories (LIA) lay the bases of cooperation around a joint project, mostly between one or several French teams and a main partner abroad. They sometimes foreshadow the creation of an International Joint Unit.
  • International Research Networks (GDRI) allow teams from two or more countries to collaborate on a joint scientific project.
  • International Joint Units (UMI), which are proper joint laboratories, have the same status as CNRS joint research units (UMR) in France. These UMIs are most often backed by one or several French laboratories, making up a "mirror UMI". Moreover, CNRS is a partner of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs in 26 joint units - French institutes abroad (UMIFRE).

Collaborative projects are organized on the basis of researchers' proposals, which are subjected to a selection process within the CNRS authorities and in liaison with international partners.

Examples of interdisciplinary and multilateral programs

Coordinated by CNRS, the MISTRALS program (Mediterranean Integrated STudies at Regional And Local Scales) is a ten-year observation and interdisciplinary research project dedicated to understanding the processes at work in the Mediterranean Basin, as well as global change, whether natural or human-induced. Its ultimate goal is to predict the evolution of habitability conditions in this ecoregion and propose appropriate measures to optimize them.

The programs Frontiers of Science (FoS) and Frontiers of Engineering (FoE) aim to promote an interdisciplinary approach when addressing cutting-edge research topics. During symposia, talented young researchers have cross-disciplinary exchanges with fellow scientists from another country involved in order to find new approaches or trends. France participates in two FoS programs, one with Japan, the other with Taiwan. A FoE program is underway with Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and France's main scientific institutions manage these programs through a consortium coordinated by CNRS.

CNRS participation in European programs

CNRS is a major player in the development of the European research area and thus an important contributor to the European integration process. As part of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development (FP7), it participated in the five main research programs of the European Commission, with which it has signed over 1250 contracts. The results obtained by French researchers in the ERC1 calls for proposals have further strengthened CNRS's position as the organization that is home to the largest number of ERC grantees in Europe. CNRS also took an active part in the International Cooperation projects (INCO2) of the FP7 Capacities Programme.

Within the "France - Europe 2020" Strategic Agenda, aimed at helping French research tackle important challenges, and in keeping with the momentum of Horizon 2020, CNRS strives to increase the participation of its research teams to European calls for proposals. In particular, it will encourage its researchers to prepare proposals on strategic scientific topics as coordinators. The organization will also continue to provide information, support its researchers, and incite them to submit proposals.

Key figures

  • 392 International Programs for Scientific Cooperation (PICS) and joint research projects (PRC)
  • 172 International Associated Laboratories (LIA)
  • 101 International Research Networks (GDRI)
  • 35 International Joint Units (UMI)
  • 26 Joint Units between CNRS/MAE French Research Institutes Abroad (UMIFRE)
  • 8 CNRS representative offices abroad (Beijing, Brussels, New-Delhi, Pretoria, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore, Tokyo, Washington)


1 - ERC : European Research Council

2 - INCO programs: INCONET (political dialogue between the EU and another region in the world), BILAT (helping third countries' researchers participate in FP7), ERA-NET (coordinating national research programs with a third country region), INCO-LAB (opening international laboratories to European partners).