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Commission fosters research and innovation dialogue with the 10 (5+5) Western Mediterranean countries from the EU and North Africa

Brussels, 31 March 2017

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, joined today in Tunisia the Forum for the Dialogue in the Western Mediterranean, referred to as the "5+5 Dialogue". With ministers and high level ministerial representatives responsible for research and higher education from the countries participating to this sub-regional forum (Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia), as well as the Secretaries General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), they discussed ways of deepening cooperation in research and innovation.

Commissioner Moedas said: "Horizon 2020, our research and innovation programme, is open to the world. Researchers or businesses from all over the globe can participate. I want to call on the Western Mediterranean countries to pursue their common objectives through our programme. It's the best means of addressing the common challenges that we face, such as water provision, agro-food systems, migration flows and climate change."

During his visit, Commissioner Moedas is also holding high-level bilateral meetings with Slim Khalbous, Tunisian Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, Fadhel Abdelkefi, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation, and Fatallah Sijilmassi, the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Tunisia is associated to Horizon 2020 since 1 December 2016. Since its association, Tunisia has been working on strengthening the governance and the performance of its national research and innovation system. Tunisian researchers and organisations have participated in successful EU-funded projects. For example, the University of Sfax participated in the MedSeA project that greatly contributed to our knowledge of the dangers of acidification of the Mediterranean Sea. The EAU4Food project, which included the Tunisian National research Institute of Rural Engineering, Water and Forests (INRGREF), brought agricultural innovation directly to the local population. And supported by an Advanced Grant awarded by the European Research Council, sociologist Alia Gana is assessing the varied results of the Arab Spring in the Tarica project.

Background

The Western Mediterranean Forum, referred to as the "5+5 Dialogue", was officially launched in Rome in 1990 as an informal sub-regional forum with the aim of fostering relations between European countries and the newly born Arab Maghreb Union. The 5+5 Dialogue comprises Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. As a trans-Mediterranean cooperation initiative, the rationale of the 5+5 Dialogue is to provide an informal forum in which the five EU member states and the five Maghreb countries have a chance to discuss subjects of topical interest for the region and to identify new areas for practical cooperation.