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Pioneering partnership of 19 countries to tackle water and food shortages in the Mediterranean

Brussels, 13 June 2017

A new Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) will soon start to develop much-needed solutions for a more sustainable management of water and agro-food systems. A proposal to set up PRIMA was today adopted in a vote in the European Parliament plenary meeting in Strasbourg.

The main objective of the ten-year initiative (2018 – 2028), which is partly funded by EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, is to develop solutions to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanisation and population growth.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "With the Parliament's green light, PRIMA will soon start to tackle water and food shortages in some of the worst affected areas in the Mediterranean, thereby addressing some of the root causes of migration. This is the largest Euro-Mediterranean research and innovation initiative in this field, a unique opportunity for EU member states and Mediterranean third countries to join forces, and an excellent example of how EU research and innovation is open to the world."

The partnership currently consists of 19 participating countries: Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. As the initiative is evolving over time, more participants, from both EU and non-EU countries, are expected to follow.

The partnership will be financed through a combination of funding from participating countries (currently €269 million), and a €220 million contribution from the EU through Horizon 2020, its research and innovation funding programme (2014 – 2020).

The PRIMA legislation will come into force following a formal approval of the Council of the EU, expected on 26 June 2017.

Background

In recent years, the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean has been suffering from severe water shortages and decreasing crop yields. Today, 180 million people in the Mediterranean basin are considered 'water poor'. The lack of clean water and nutritious food has adverse effects on the health and stability of the populations.

Proposed by nine Member States in 2014, the PRIMA partnership will be created under Horizon 2020 and is based on Article 185 TFEU, which enables the EU to participate in research programmes undertaken jointly by several Member States.