At the end of 2016 the Visegrad Group agriculture ministers of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and additionally Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia committed to cooperate and to contribute to the development of the European Research Area in the bioeconomy sectors. In a common declaration they expressed the willingness to work together and to present the common needs and proposals from the CEE macro-region’s countries and to fill the gaps in the HORIZON 2020 Work Programme 2018-2020 under the Societal Challenge 2 Bioeconomy.

The Common Declaration of the ministers was preceded and followed by several meetings and expert level workshops. In the context of global challenges and related research and innovation gaps, it had become clear that a cross-sectorial research and innovation initiative was needed to develop a deeper cooperation. Several other countries – like Croatia, Estonia, and European Union (EU) neighbouring countries research institutes – expressed the willingness to join the initiative.

The Central-Eastern European Initiative for Knowledge-based Agriculture, Aquaculture and Forestry in the Bioeconomy – BIOEAST – could offer a shared strategic research and innovation framework for working towards the development of a sustainable bioeconomy in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. The comparative advantage in the EU of the CEE countries, namely the sustainable biomass production and processing, could lead to the benefit of the society by creating jobs and growth in the private sector. The macro-region’s environmental, economic, societal, geopolitical, cultural and historical homogeneity and complexity could provide the framework conditions favourable to development of a sustainable circular bioeconomy. However, to achieve this goal, the traditional primary production and processing sectors must be modernized through a robust research and innovation initiative in bioeconomy. In fact, the research and innovation capacities of these countries are facing significant internal disparities, thus creating a barrier to the full completion of a European Research Area. Joint efforts are thus required to address present and future challenges successfully.

On these bases, it is critical to develop a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) that would address the following issues:

  1. Food-, energy-, job- security in each country
  2. Macro-regional economic, environmental and societal sustainability
  3. European solidarity between EU13 and other member states (knowledge transfer)
  4. Cooperation with EU institutions to strengthen the synergies with other EU instruments and initiatives

Setting-up the Initiative

The BIOEAST Initiative represents the joint efforts by Visegrad Group and other CEE countries. The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda should lead to enforced policy making at national level, enhanced cooperation with other EU countries and forward-looking participation in the European Research Area (ERA).


There is a strong commitment in the Visegrad Group to keep high in their political agenda the BIOEAST Initiative. A high-level diplomat post will be created in Brussels to liaise between the member states and EU institutions.

The BIOEAST Initiative will be governed and coordinated by the BIOEAST Secretary, who will also liaise with the Visegrad Group (V4) Presidency. Barna Kovács is appointed as the Secretary.

Who is part of BIOEAST? Experts? Ministries? Both? Is there a working-group structure? How many working groups? Covering which topics? Who is part of the working groups?

The participating Member States are expected to communicate with the European Commission both at expert and at political levels. The former includes representatives of ministries, research institutes, academies of sciences, universities, and chamber organisations involving the industry. Political-level discussions will happen in the Visegrad Group’s working groups in the constellation of the different ministries. The European Commission will be formally updated of the results of these discussions via the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 Programme Committee and the Standing Committee for Agricultural Research (SCAR). The European Council will be formally updated in the frame of the different Council meetings, while the European Parliament via the interested Members of the European Parliament.

Next steps

The BIOEAST Initiative will develop:

  1. A Vision Paper
  2. A Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda

The Vision Paper will identify the key challenges to address and will frame the objectives and goals of the initiative with a broad action plan. The Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) will be a tool for addressing the challenges. The SRIA will detail the scope, level and duration of specific joint actions to be taken in order to achieve a particular goal falling within a key challenge. It will be designed to be a living document offering a handbook for interested implementing bodies, bearing in mind that the BIOEAST initiative:

  • allows for different types of action to be taken at different levels, as regards geographical coverage, critical mass, joint funding, coordination of national/regional efforts or the use of EU instruments;
  • is designed to involve relevant players and stakeholders such as national ministries, regional authorities, international organisations, organisations that undertake research, research infrastructure, academia, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and the general public.


Date 2017-2018 Event Action
June-September EC proposed technical meetings between BIOEAST and DG RTD's DIR F BIOEAST advisor, with the support of the EC, tasked to develop the draft roadmap and the draft Vision Paper
June-September BIOEAST internal discussions To prepare the draft roadmap and draft Vision Paper
June-September Hungarian BIOEAST discussions
  1. To prepare the diplomat post
  2. To prepare a dedicated website
20-24 September, Hungarian National Agricultural Fair Bioeconomy Conference for policy makers
  1. Adopt and promote the EU Bioeconomy definition including all the sectors
  2. Involve all relevant Ministries,(internal) Regions, public/private Partnerships, industrial/consumers Associations
  3. Promote interconnection of sectors
  4. Include circularity elements of the Bioeconomy
  5. Setting-up the Vision Paper
20-24 September, Hungarian National Agricultural Fair Visegrad Group Agricultural Ministers meeting Adoption of the roadmap
September Polish national SCAR event
  1. Adopt and promote the EU Bioeconomy definition including all the sectors
  2. Involve all relevant Ministries, (internal) Regions, public/private Partnerships, industrial/consumers Associations
  3. Promote interconnection of sectors
  4. Include circularity but emphasize key role of Bioeconomy in the frame of Circular Economy
  5. Setting-up the Vision Paper
September – October Remote
  • Concept note for EC workshop on focusing the Vision Paper with challenges and objectives.
  • Focusing the Initiative!
October EC Brussels Workshop
  • Drafting the Vision Paper with challenges and objectives.
  • Focusing the Initiative!
  • Develop a first draft to be discussed in a dedicated meeting
November 20-21, 2017, Lodz, Poland Lodz Region Bioeconomy Conference Mobilizing the policy makers:
  • Deep local promotion of initiative, its inclusion in reg./nat. agenda, alignment
  • Networking/cooperation with other initiatives. Alignment priority/actions
  • Align policies, R&I funding strategies and funds and infrastructures
December Tallinn EC-EE workshop Finalizing the Vision Paper
December Visegrad Group + Adoption of the Vision Paper
December-February AGRIFISH and COMPET European Council Communicating the Vision Paper
2018 March BIOEAST workshop Drafting the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda
2018 June HU Presidency: Visegrad Group BIOEAST conference Adoption of the SRIA with goals, actions, detailed level, scope and duration
2018 June -July AGRIFISH and COMPET European Council Communicating the SRIA

Download Roadmap