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Research and innovation

Mediterranean

Policy background, UfM regional platform, roadmaps, projects and results, funding and events

Policy background

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental institution bringing together all EU countries and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean to promote dialogue and cooperation. To relaunch and strengthen the strategic partnership between the EU and its partners in the Southern Neighbourhood, the European Commission and the EEAS adopted in February 2021 a Joint Communication putting forward an ambitious New Agenda for the Mediterranean. The Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood and planned Economic and Investment Plan and the EU Global Approach to Research and Innovation aim at strengthening long-term regional cooperation through the creation of sustainable economies linking scientific and technological innovation with employment opportunities.

The EU maintains regional policy dialogue with Mediterranean partners in the context of the UfM Regional Platform in Research and Innovation, but also bilateral policy relations with individual Mediterranean partners through bilateral science and technology cooperation agreements. It has agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

The Horizon Europe association agreement with Tunisia was signed on 29 March 2022 (formal negotiations were successfully concluded in October 2021); ratification to take place in April-May 2022 (to be confirmed). The association negotiations are still ongoing with Morocco. Tunisia and Morocco are already participating in published calls and transitional measures have been introduced, making their entities eligible for funding as part of the list of low-middle income countries (first grants with entities from Tunisia are expected to be signed in the first half of 2022).

What the regional platform does

The UfM Regional Platform in Research and Innovation (formerly known as the “Euro-Mediterranean Monitoring Committee on Research and Innovation”) was created in 1995 within the framework of the Barcelona Process to monitor and promote cooperation in research, technology and development. It brings together the EU countries and all Mediterranean partner countries for political dialogue.

The main objective of the platform is to make recommendations for the joint implementation of research policy priorities. It also acts as the meeting of the national focal points on issues concerning science, technology and innovation, including for the ministerial meetings on higher education, research and innovation.

All member countries of the UfM are members of the platform, as well as the EU representing the Northern co-presidency. In addition, the Arab League and relevant institutions and initiatives may participate as observers on proposition of the co-presidency.

Members

Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Syria [1], Tunisia, Turkey

[1] Syria suspended its membership on 1 December 2011

Libya has an observer status

How it helps the sustainable development of the Mediterranean

  • acting as a forum for the exchange of information and views and recommendations on research and innovation policy in the Mediterranean region, and establishing a common information base on this subject
  • identifying issues of regional importance to be addressed by research and innovation and requiring cooperative Euro-Mediterranean activities, including bi-regional initiatives
  • preparing and executing a work programme, where relevant, either through the platform itself or through the establishment of ad-hoc working groups reporting directly to the platform
  • proposing specific actions to be taken in the interest of the Mediterranean region
  • monitoring and providing feedback on research and innovation policies, developments and activities in the Euro-Mediterranean context
  • communicating/exchanging information with the UfM senior officials meeting and the UfM secretariat as well as with the Strategic Forum for International Cooperation with respect to its opinion on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in research and innovation
  • supporting and preparing the UfM ministerial meetings on research, higher education and innovation
  • reporting to and contributing to the follow-up of the UfM ministerial meeting on research, higher education and innovation for issues concerning science, technology and innovation

Priority areas and roadmaps

A major milestone of the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue on research and innovation was the Ministerial Conference on Strengthening Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation through Research and Innovation (R&I) in 2017. By adopting the Valletta Declaration on Strengthening Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation through Research and Innovation, it was agreed to cooperate more closely on the contribution of research and innovation to understanding and addressing the root causes of migration, develop a Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean (PRIMA) and promote research and innovation to create "blue jobs" and growth in the Mediterranean (BLUEMED initiative).

Building on the Valletta Declaration of 2017 and the results achieved, beginning in November 2019, the Platform has engaged in strategic discussions to define future priorities to orient R&I collaboration and investments, both at the regional and national levels, in the coming years. Three priorities have been defined (namely Climate Change, Renewable Energies, and Health) , and were agreed at the Senior Officials 25th Meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Platform in Research and Innovation in June 2020.

An Expert Group consisting of leading academics and practitioners in these fields has been commissioned to prepare Roadmaps identifying possible research, innovation and capacity-building actions addressing urgent needs in the region. The Expert Group comprises ten members from Italy, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, France, and Malta. A public consultation took place between 17 March and 7 May 2021 to which a wide network of stakeholders and specialists in the Euro-Mediterranean region participated, including through dedicated events, which connected with many UfM networks and initiatives. The experts have also formulated the horizontal approach to integrated crisis management, whereby the interlinkages between the three R&I Roadmaps are emphasised such as reducing greenhouse gases by the use of renewable energy technologies and green fuel. In particular, interconnected impact domains between climate change, health and renewable energies in the Mediterranean Countries have been identified: water resources, ecosystems, food safety and security, health and human security. The roadmaps were adopted in July 2021 at the 27th meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean Regional Platform in Research and Innovation.

 The next R&I UfM Ministerial meeting will take place on 27 June 2022. It would be an opportunity to agree at the highest political level on these objectives, priorities, and actions, and how best to implement them in the coming years. The foreseen R&I ministerial is an important step towards the implementation of the agreed R&I priorities in the context of three Roadmaps. The expected declaration will act  as the basis for future cooperation and committing to mobilising resources from national and EU level programmes and initiatives, recognising the need to level the playing field and collaborate on the basis of fundamental R&I values and principles.

Meetings of the UfM

Background

Challenges for the Southern Mediterranean

Most countries' science, technology and industry priorities focus on helping research results get to market and tackling challenges such as mile energy, water, health and food.

Supporting young researchers' training and mobility and limiting brain drain are also priorities.

Innovation remains relatively weak in the overall research and innovation landscape. That said, many countries have put in place mechanisms, financial structures and legal frameworks to support innovation and technology transfer.

Low expenditure on research and development is another weakness. Available data (although outdated) suggests that resources for research and development are still insufficient. Yet many countries are increasing their expenditures on R&I in recent years.

Opportunities for the Southern Mediterranean

Market size is a relative strength in the region. It creates potentially favourable conditions for technology transfer and trade in innovation between the EU and the Southern Mediterranean.

Several recent political initiatives have helped build national innovation ecosystem capacities and supported entrepreneurs and the incubation of start-ups, a boost to SMEs' competitiveness and youth employment at large.

Most countries have a coordinating body that delegates competencies and tasks on innovation policy. They also have a specific budget to support innovation activities and fund schemes and incentives supporting innovation.

The innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has grown rapidly since 2018 and the region is seeing growth in new venture capital, business incubators, seed funds, and entrepreneurship capacity building entities, and innovation clusters in particular.

The majority of these new entities are created by civil society and the private sector. Many of them participate in EU programmes, where clusters in the region tend to be open to collaboration with Europe.

Almost all countries in the region have adjusted the legal framework to better support innovation and technology transfer as clear national priorities.

 

Funding opportunities

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion available over 7 years (2021 to 2027).

Horizon Europe website

 

Projects and results

Research project database

The EU framework programmes have been instrumental in pushing forward research and innovation cooperation. About 294 public and private entities from the South Mediterranean participated in Horizon 2020. Those were involved in 177 projects and received an EU contribution of €34,069 million and own contribution of about €9,530 million.

Most active participants in the region include Morocco followed by Egypt (excluding Tunisia and Israel which were associated to Horizon 2020). Environment, food and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions  were among the top collaboration areas.

EU-funded research projects involving the Mediterranean and Middle East

For previous framework programmes, please contact the Research enquiry service.

Example of research cooperation project

5TOI_4EWAS (2016-2019)

The project focused on targeted open innovation in energy, water and agriculture societal challenges through a balanced innovation-friendly ecosystem in the Southern Mediterranean Neighborhood.

 

Contact

National Contact Points

The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon Europe.

European Commission

DG Research and Innovation unit F.2: International cooperation

Documents

Factsheet24 June 2022
EU-Mediterranean cooperation in Research and Innovation

The cooperation in the region underlines the importance of common solutions to address major challenges, such as skills mismatch, youth unemployment and brain drain.

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  • UE-Coopération méditerranéenne dans le domaine de la recherche et de l’innovation
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