USA/GERMANY: Political Framework for Bilateral Cooperation

The USA is Germany’s most important scientific and technological cooperation partner among all industrialized countries. A large number of joint initiatives are carried out in all fields of science and research. Every year, several thousand scientists and students from Germany and the USA receive public funding for study visits to the respective partner country. The exchange of information has traditionally been intensive. All in all, an enormous number of science and research projects are carried out jointly or in a way so as to complement each other.

Cooperation between Germany and the USA has a decentralized structure – it is carried out independently by research organizations, research institutes and the researchers themselves. The intergovernmental agreement on scientific and technological cooperation signed in February 2010 provides an overarching framework for the cooperation.
In addition, more than 50 bilateral cooperation agreements have been concluded between individual institutions and form the basis for a close network of German-American research projects.
The S&T cooperation agreement that was concluded between the USA and the European Union in 1998 underlines the European dimension of the research collaboration, which integrates Central and Eastern European countries and continually creates new opportunities for cooperation.

    There are collaborations in all areas of research, science and technology. On the occasion of the visit of Federal Minister Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan to the USA in February 2010, bilateral working groups on energy, climate research and health prepared to intensify collaboration in these areas. Cooperations in basic physical research and on the subjects of environmental and security research are also noteworthy.
  • Numerous German and American project partners cooperate in the area of climate research and environmental technology through international research networks. The subjects under investigation are the complex interactions within the earth’s overall system, its climate system (e.g. the El Niño phenomenon) and the ozone layer. One central aspect is the comparison of methods employed for cleanup operations and the management of land in urban areas (brownfields).
  • In the field of regenerative medicine an agreement between the BMBF and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) was concluded in September 2009. Initial joint projects were launched in 2010; there are plans to expand this cooperation.
  • Also in 2009, BMBF and NSF concluded a cooperation agreement in the field of “computational neuroscience”.
  • In 2009, the USA and Germany concluded an intergovernmental agreement on collaboration in civil security research. Funding for initial bilateral projects on container security and visual analytics has been provided since 2010.
  • In the area of vocational training, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB) and the Department of Education are cooperating in the field of internationally competitive qualification standards in the automotive industry, focusing on electric vehicle technology and the “green” professions.
  • An agreement on cooperation in the area of dense plasma physics was concluded between the BMBF and the USA’s Department of Energy (DOE) on 24 July 2001. This is the first accord that is based on the interdepartmental agreement concluded between the two ministries on 20 February 1998. It provides the basis under international law for research cooperation between the Heavy Ion Research Centre (GSI) and three national laboratories in the USA: the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). One of the aims of the collaboration is the creation of the internationally unique laser system PHELIX. In combination with the intensive heavy ion beam available at the GSI, it will enable completely new types of experiments
  • A further example of the close transatlantic collaboration is the construction and joint use of large-scale research facilities in the USA and Europe. This includes the USA’s and Canada’s involvement in the German Electron Synchroton (DESY), the USA’s participation in the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) as well as the USA’s contribution in two large-scale experiments. Scientists at the Research Centre Jülich developed an instrument for the world’s most powerful spallation neutron source SNS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is currently under construction. In addition, German and American research institutions are cooperating in the construction of IceCube, the neutrino telescope at the South Pole, as well as the radio telescope ALMA in Chile.
  • The German Historical Institute (DHI) in Washington dedicates itself to collaborations between German and American historians.
  • The many exchange programmes for students and scientists also deserve mention. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), the German Research Association (DFG), and the Fulbright Foundation are some of the organizations involved in this work.
  • Since 2007, the German science and intermediary organisations and the universities have been jointly taking part in the European Career Fair at MIT in Boston under the heading “Germany – Land of Ideas”.

On 10 February 2010, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, the German Ambassador to the USA, Dr. Klaus Scharioth, and the American Deputy Secretary of State, James B. Steinberg, signed a framework agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the USA on scientific and technological cooperation. On the basis of this agreement, research collaboration between the two countries is to be expanded in areas of joint interest and strategic importance.
The BMBF mainly funds projects on climate and polar research, health research and the geosciences. The division responsible for cooperation with the USA also provides funding for activities to initiate collaborations, for workshops, researcher exchanges and the promotion of young researchers. Promoting Germany as a study and research location is also an extremely important topic with regard to the USA

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