We welcome programmes that aim to reduce disparities in research and innovation performance within the EU and take action to support these Member States where necessary. We believe it is important that this applies not only to EU Member States, but also to Candidate Countries, where cooperation in a wide range of areas is of great importance to the individual scientists, academic institutions and the research environment of the country as a whole. We are working with experts to develop concrete initiatives to expand both the content and the structure of these programmes.Increasing European integration and ensuring a greater balance between countries in the EU is a key issue for the progress of democracy in Europe.