Policy background

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental institution bringing together all EU countries and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean to promote dialogue and cooperation. Relations centre on six main areas and include research.

The EU maintains research and innovation relations with individual Mediterranean partners through bilateral science and technology cooperation agreements. It has agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia.

What the regional platform does

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) regional platform on research and innovation was created in 1995 to monitor and promote cooperation in research, technology and development. It brings together the EU countries and all Mediterranean partner countries for political dialogue.

The main objective of the platform is to make recommendations for the joint implementation of research policy priorities. It also acts as the meeting of the national focal points on issues concerning science, technology and innovation, including for the ministerial meetings on higher education, research and innovation.

All member countries of the UfM are members of the Platform, as well as the EU representing the Northern co-presidency. In addition, the Arab League and relevant institutions and initiatives may participate as observers on proposition of the co-presidency.

Members

Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Syria [1], Tunisia, Turkey

[1] Syria suspended its membership on 1 December 2011

Libya has an observer status

How it helps the sustainable development of the Mediterranean

  • acting as a forum for the exchange of information and views and recommendations on research and innovation policy in the Mediterranean region, and establishing a common information base on this subject
  • identifying issues of regional importance to be addressed by research and innovation and requiring cooperative Euro-Mediterranean activities, including bi-regional initiatives
  • preparing and executing a work programme, where relevant, either through the platform itself or through the establishment of ad-hoc working groups reporting directly to the platform
  • proposing specific actions to be taken in the interest of the Mediterranean region
  • monitoring and providing feedback on research and innovation policies, developments and activities in the Euro-Mediterranean context
  • communicating/exchanging information with the UfM senior officials meeting and the UfM secretariat as well as with the Strategic Forum for International Cooperation with respect to its opinion on Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in research and innovation
  • supporting and preparing the UfM ministerial meetings on research, higher education and innovation
  • reporting to and contributing to the follow-up of the UfM ministerial meeting on research, higher education and innovation for issues concerning science, technology and innovation

Priority areas and roadmaps

Climate change, renewable energies and health are the priorities for stronger regional collaboration in research and innovation for the coming years. These priorities were agreed at the Senior Officials 25th Meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Platform in Research and Innovation in June 2020.

A Technical expert group made up of leading academics in the field was formed to develop a set of Roadmaps/Theories of Change and Impact Pathways (TCIPs) addressing key challenges and opportunities according to the priority areas as well as an assessment of horizontal linkages between these areas.

Once the survey closes on 7 May the technical expert group will further refine the draft Roadmaps/TCIPs in view of their final adoption in June 2021 at the 27th meeting of the UfM Platform.

Meetings

2020

26th Meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Platform on Research and Innovation held on 10 Dec 2020 | minutes

25th Meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Platform on Research and Innovation held on 8 June 2020 | minutes

2019

24th Meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Group of Senior Officials in Research and Innovation held on 25 November 2019 | minutes

Background

Challenges for the Southern Mediterranean

Most countries' science, technology and industry priorities focus on helping research results get to market and tackling challenges mile energy, water, health and food.

Supporting young researchers' training and mobility and limiting brain drain are also priorities.

Innovation remains the main weakness in the overall research and innovation landscape. That said, many countries have put in place mechanisms, financial structures and legal frameworks to support innovation and technology transfer.

Low expenditure on research and development is another weakness. Available data (although outdated) suggests that resources for research and development are still insufficient.

Opportunities for the Southern Mediterranean

Market size is a relative strength in the region. It creates potentially favourable conditions for technology transfer and trade in innovation between the EU and the Southern Mediterranean.

Several recent political initiatives have helped build national innovation ecosystem capacities and supported entrepreneurs and the incubation of start-ups, a boost to SMEs' competitiveness and youth employment at large.

Most countries have a coordinating body that delegates competencies and tasks on innovation policy. They also have a specific budget to support innovation activities and fund schemes and incentives supporting innovation.

The innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has grown rapidly since 2018 and the region is seeing growth in new venture capital, business incubators, seed funds, and entrepreneurship capacity building entities, and innovation clusters in particular.

The majority of these new entities are created by civil society and the private sector. Many of them participate in EU programmes, where clusters in the region tend to be open to collaboration with Europe.

Almost all countries in the region have adjusted the legal framework to better support innovation and technology transfer as clear national priorities.

Funding

Horizon 2020 is open to the world. This means that participants from all over the world can participate in most calls. In many cases, the EU will fund at least partly the participation of the international partners.

International cooperation in Horizon 2020

Projects and results

Research project database

EU-funded research projects involving the Mediterranean and Middle East

For previous framework programmes, please contact the Research enquiry service.

Example of research cooperation project

  • 5TOI_4EWAS(2016-2019) focused on targeted open innovation in energy, water and agriculture societal challenges through a balanced innovation-friendly ecosystem in the Southern Mediterranean Neighborhood.

Contact

National Contact Points

The National Contact Points (NCPs) provide guidance, practical information and assistance on all aspects of participation in Horizon 2020.

European Commission

DG Research and Innovation unit H.2: International cooperation

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