International Cooperation



30 March 2017

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

Commissioner Moedas at the podium

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation attended 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 held 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.

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.

More information

More News about Tunisia


Policy background

General Background

Tunisia is participating into the Barcelona process and was the first Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with the EU on 17 July 1995. The Euro-Med Association Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, on the one part, and the Tunisian Republic, on the other, came into force on March 1, 1998.

Under the term of the Agreement, the EU and Tunisia commit themselves to co-operate in a wide range of areas including: strengthened political dialogue, trade, economic, social and cultural issues. The Agreement foresees also financial co-operation to accompany reform measures in Tunisia.

This bi-regional co-operation was given new impetus at the Paris summit in 2008. The ‘Union for the Mediterranean - UfM’ was launched, with the political objective of upgrading relations and focusing on six main axes including Research.

Tunisia is a participant to the European Neighbourhood Policy, which has been reviewed in 2011 to adapt it to the changes in the country. In May 2011, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission published a joint communication (COM (2011) 303) presenting a new approach to strengthen the partnership between the EU and the neighbourhood countries. In terms of Research and Innovation the focus is on working towards the development of a Common Knowledge and Innovation Space, which would pull together policy dialogue, national and regional capacity-building, cooperation in research and innovation and increased mobility of researchers. An Action Plan, which includes mutually agreed priorities and objectives in the areas of political, economic, commercial, justice, security and cultural cooperation is in force since 4 July 2005. To take the recent changes in the country into account, a new Action Plan is currently being negotiation in the framework of the "nouveau partenariat" ("statut avancé" in the case of other ENP countries).Implementation, notably through the sub-committees established under the Association Agreement, is on-going. Research activities are dealt with in the Research Development and Innovation subcommittee.

The Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement

A Scientific and Technological cooperation agreement between the EU and Tunisia was signed on June 2003 and has entered into force in April 2004.

Since the date of entry into force of the Agreement five Joint Committee Meetings took place, the last one on 13 and 14 December 2011. The operational outcome of the Joint Committee is reflected in a Roadmap which is to be considered as a rolling agenda for the further cooperation between the EU and Tunisia.

The 5th Joint Committee meeting of the EU-Tunisia S&T Cooperation Agreement took place in Tunis on 13 and 14 December. The meeting was carried out jointly with the ENP Sub-Committee Meeting on Research, Innovation and Education. The meeting was co-chaired by Prof. Jelel Ezzine, Director General of International Cooperation at the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Laurent Bochereau, Head of Unit International Cooperation Policy at the European Commission's DG Research and Innovation. Representatives from EEAS and the EU Delegation in Tunis attended on the EU side as well. The Committee reviewed advances in S&T cooperation, now under conditions of the 'Arab Spring', which brought new perspectives and aspirations to Tunisian research.

Meeting report  PDF icon



FETRIC (2013-2016)

Future European Tunisian Research Innovation Cooperation consists of a comprehensive partnership of stakeholder groups: An educational ministry, Business innovation centre, Research and innovation centres etc. that will promote the interest in research cooperation between Tunisia and the EU.

More information



Framework documents


European Commission
DG Research and Innovation
Laura Hetel
Policy Officer
Unit RTD C 3 European Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf
Telephone: (+32) 229 81357

Laura Hetel