The European Union has dedicated 320 million euros ($345 million) this year to support research and innovation projects across the Mediterranean region, including in Arab countries, on topics in the fields of health, climate, and renewable energy sources.
Researchers eligible to compete for funding include those in countries that are members of the Union for the Mediterranean, an intergovernmental organisation that brings together all countries of the European Union and 16 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. Arab member countries include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine.
The funding for 2023-24 will be provided through a new Mediterranean Initiative created under the ongoing Horizon Europe programme, the European Union’s flagship research and innovation programme.
Maria Cristina Russo, the European Commission’s director of global approach and international cooperation, was among the officials who attended an event in Cairo to launch the Mediterranean Initiative.
In an interview with Al-Fanar Media, Russo said that the European Union seeks to cooperate with Mediterranean countries to strengthen their economies and transform them into economies based on knowledge and innovation. This can help promote their sustainable development and improve their productivity, she added, as well as encourage fruitful cooperation among Middle Eastern and African countries bordering the Mediterranean.
“The program focuses on research in climate change, health, and renewable energy. It seeks to produce innovative results that contribute to improving scientific work in these areas conducted by researchers from Mediterranean countries, promoting a culture of innovation, and developing plans related to these issues.”Maria Cristina Russo, director of global approach and international cooperation at the European Commission
“The programme focuses on research in climate change, health, and renewable energy,” Russo said. “It seeks to produce innovative results that contribute to improving scientific work in these areas conducted by researchers from Mediterranean countries, promoting a culture of innovation, and developing plans related to these issues.”
There is no specific number of beneficiaries of this programme, Russo said. The selection of the projects to be supported will depend on the evaluation and comparison between the competing research proposals. “We hope that the largest possible number of researchers will participate in this programme to develop scientific research in the aforementioned fields,” she added.
A webinar set for March 22 will highlight funding opportunities and provide practical information on how to respond effectively to calls for proposals. Russo said such events are designed so that researchers can better understand the programme’s requirements before submitting proposals for projects they wish to fund.
While Russo hopes that all university professors and students in the Mediterranean countries will participate in the Mediterranean Initiative, she says that Horizon Europe gives researchers a great opportunity to exchange experiences with their counterparts in other countries, by presenting common ideas and establishing areas of research cooperation to produce results that can help address pressing global concerns, the foremost of which is climate change.
Others attending the launch event in Cairo included Ayman Ashour, Egypt’s minister of higher education and scientific research; Nasser Kamel, secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean; Christian Berger, head of the European Union delegation to Egypt; and a number of scholars.
Ambassador Kamel described the launch of the Mediterranean Initiative as “a real-life implementation” of agreements reached during COP27, the United Nations climate conference that Egypt hosted in November, to promote countries’ sustainable development and renewable energy in the coming years.
“Horizon Europe’s research programme will contribute to promoting technology and development in Mediterranean countries through the financing opportunities it offers to researchers and through transforming research results into practical applications to confront challenges in areas like climate, energy, and health.”– Nasser Kamel, secretary general of the Union for the Mediterranean
“Horizon Europe’s research programme will contribute to promoting technology and development in Mediterranean countries through the financing opportunities it offers to researchers and through transforming research results into practical applications to confront challenges in areas like climate, energy, and health, benefiting different countries and improving people’s lives,” Kamel told Al-Fanar Media.
Ambassador Berger said the programme’s launch came after years of strategic cooperation between the European Union and countries of the Mediterranean on the exchange scientific expertise.
Launching a programme that relies on scientific research in other countries enhances the ability of those countries to face various challenges, Berger said. “We hope this program will create an atmosphere to exploit scientific research in strengthening the economy in general, besides contributing to sustainable development of various countries.”
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