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1 December 2015

Tunisia joins Horizon 2020, the EU's Research and Innovation Programme

Photo from the event
Exchange of the Horizon 2020 association signed agreement between Chiheb Bouden, on the left, and Carlos Moedas

Researchers and innovators from Tunisia will now be able to participate in Horizon 2020, the EU's framework programme for research and innovation, under the same conditions as their counterparts from EU Member States and other 13 associated countries. The agreement associating Tunisia to Horizon 2020 was signed today by Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Chiheb Bouden, Tunisian Minister for High Education and Scientific Research.

Commissioner Moedas said: "I am pleased to welcome Tunisia into Horizon 2020, the biggest programme for research and innovation of the world. This agreement is a historical one. It shows that through research and innovation, the EU is supporting the young Tunisian democracy and helping to invest in knowledge as a foundation of future development. Tunisia's accession also shows how a research policy open to the world can bring novel ideas and enrich our common research efforts."

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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.

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Framework documents


European Commission
DG Research and Innovation
Christopher Gauci
Senior Policy Officer
Unit RTD C3 European Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf
Telephone: (+32) 229 55953

Christopher Gauci