Article 185 Initiatives

Article 185 TFEU: "In implementing the multiannual framework programme, the Union may make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in research and development programmes undertaken by several Member States, including participation in the structures created for the execution of those programmes."


The goal of Article 185 initiatives is to join up the national research efforts of participating EU Member States by securing their commitment to a joint research programme. The establishment of an Article 185 requires members of the initiative to set up a dedicated implementation structure (DIS) that can provide a significant degree of scientific, managerial and financial integration. The EU commits itself as a partner of the Article 185 initiative providing funding for coordination activities as well as consistently topping up national funding pooled to support calls for proposals. Initiatives based on Article 185 are therefore Public-Public Partnerships between Member States (and Associated States) and the EU.


They are established in areas where the cooperation between member states in funding and  performing research has reached a high level of integration, including in the development of  common structures.


Regulations governing Article 185 initiatives stipulate that these are operational over a  period of 10 years, and funding is planned for during the relevant negotiations surrounding the framework programme every 7 years. This means that each initiative, with its own legal status, has a greater guarantee of EU support and commitment from Member States over a substantial period of time. It is important to note that within Article 185 initiatives, eligibility for EU top-up funding is reserved for ‘members’ of the initiatives which are required to pay membership fees. These fees go towards the coordination and administrative activities of the Article 185 initiative. Additional national funds are needed to support local participation in research projects that would be selected in a call for proposals.


To qualify as an Article 185, the initiative has to fulfil the following criteria that were set out in the Seventh Framework Programme: relevance to EU objectives, clear definition of the objective to be pursued and its relevance to Framework Programme objectives, a pre- existing basis (existing or envisaged research programmes), European added value, critical mass (based on size and number of programmes and similar activities covered), and efficiency of the Article 185  as the most appropriate means for achieving the objectives. Five Article 185s have been set up to date, based on these criteria, namely:




EDCTP - European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership

EDCTP 2 Budget: €683 million

AAL - joint research programme on 'Ambient Assisted Living'

AAL 2 JP Budget: €175 million

Bonus - joint research programme in the field of Baltic Sea research

To be evaluated in 2015

EMRP - joint research programme in the field of Metrology

EMPIR Budget: €300 million

Eurostars - joint research programme for research performing SMEs

Eurostars 2 Budget: €287 million


Malta participates in Eurostars 2 through Malta Enterprise. The Maltese government allocates 75% of the funds for local research-performing SMEs, with the other 25% funded by the European Commission. Since 2011, the total annual investment available to companies wishing to participate in Eurostars was €500,000. A number of local entities, including MCST and Malta Enterprise, are involved in the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) that has been purposefully set up to promote such participation.