The historical changes taking place in the Southern Mediterranean region since December 2010 call for a focused, innovative and ambitious response from the European Union. Throughout 2011, the European Commission has established the Neighbourhood countries of the European Union as a key priority and has developed a new strategy, which can be found in two Joint Communications of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (COM (2011) 200 and COM (2011) 303).
Research and Innovation play a major role in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job creation. The development of a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space (CKIS) linked to smart growth and the EU's Innovation Agenda is one of the aims of the new strategy of the EU. The CKIS is meant to cover policy dialogue, national and regional capacity-building, cooperation in research and innovation, increased mobility opportunities for students, researchers and academics.
In this context, a high-level conference is being held by the European Commission's Research and Innovation DG, in consultation with other departments, the European Parliament, the EU Member States and the Mediterranean countries. The main objectives are:
The Conference will be opened by Mrs. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, by Mrs. Carmen Vela Olmo, State Secretary for Research and Innovation Spain, by Mr. Andreu Mas-Colell, Minister for Economy and Knowledge Catalunia, Mr. Lahcen Daoudi, Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Training Morocco, Mr. Kim Brinckmann, Head of Division at Center for Globalisation, Danish Agency for Science, technology and Innovation and Mr. Kent Johansson, Member of the European Parliament.