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New project to assess transport research priorities in Maghreb countries

The newly launched ESTEEM initiative brings together European and Maghreb countries to set strategic priorities and research goals in the area of transport safety and security.

Women on mopeds in Morocco © K. Diab
Getting around in Morocco
© K. Diab

Knowledge is one of the essential contributing factors for achieving sustainable development and economic growth, and the production and the development of scientific knowledge has become a significant driving force strengthening EU relations with third countries and regions.

"The Mediterranean area is a major priority for the European Union," says EU Project Officer Cristina Marolda, "especially where safety and security are concerned, but while a number of studies have highlighted the need for improvement of transport systems in the Maghreb area, no collaborative projects have yet been undertaken."

Broadening scope

The EU has several means for supporting international co-operation in research. The ESTEEM initiative, launched last April under the Union's Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7), aims to contribute to the coordination of new research activities and policies between the EU and neighbouring countries, especially the Maghreb countries – Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. A seven-member consortium will work to identify strategic priorities and topics for research on transport safety and security.

"The Sustainable Surface Transport Theme has as its main objective the creation of a greener, smarter and safer transport system for Europe," Marolda explains. "Such a system cannot be limited by European borders, but needs to be extended to our neighbouring countries."

ESTEEM (Enhancing safety and security aspects in transport research in the EuroMediterranean region) will provide an overview not only of the needs for innovation, but also of available capacities in EU partner countries. This will then form a basis on which to build future collaborative research initiatives.

Cristina Marolda © Tim Reynolds
Cristina Marolda
© Tim Reynolds

"Safety and security are the main focus of the project," says Marolda. "Safety of road and rail transport, including infrastructure and attention to vulnerable users, and safety and security in the maritime sector, including port surveillance, will all be priority issues explored by the consortium."

New research topics to be identified

ESTEEM will also consider other topics of common interest, such as infrastructure development, impacts on climate change, and measures to promote co-modality in marine ports.

The initiative will run for 20 months, at the end of which, Marolda says, partners will present concrete suggestions for research actions with international partner countries. These topics will then feature in future Sustainable Surface Transport work programmes.