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The PRIMA initiative

In recent years, the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean has been suffering from severe water shortages and decreasing crop yields. Today, 180 million people in the Mediterranean basin are considered 'water poor'. The lack of clean water and nutritious food has adverse effects on the health and stability of the populations.

PRIMA visual with map

A new Partnership on Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) will develop much-needed solutions for a more sustainable management of water and agro-food systems. The main objective of the ten-year initiative (2018 – 2028), which is partly funded by EU's research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, is to develop solutions to improve water availability and sustainable agriculture production in a region heavily distressed by climate change, urbanisation and population growth.

The partnership currently consists of 19 participating countries: Algeria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. As the initiative is evolving over time, more participants, from both EU and non-EU countries, are expected to follow.

The partnership will be financed through a combination of funding from participating countries (currently €269 million), and a €220 million contribution from the EU through Horizon 2020, its research and innovation funding programme (2014 – 2020).

How the PRIMA initiative began

On 22 December 2014, nine Member States of the European Union (EU) – Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain – submitted a proposal for the participation of the EU in a joint research and innovation programme focused on the development and application of innovative solutions for food systems and water resources in the Mediterranean basin. This would be through an Article 185 initiative under Horizon 2020.

The proposal has been named "PRIMA", which stands for "Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area". The following seven non-EU countries are taking part in PRIMA: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. A total of two hundred million euros have been committed for this initiative over a 10 year period starting in 2018. This figure includes the contribution from the Czech Republic and Luxembourg, which joined PRIMA at a later stage

According to the proposal, the general objective of PRIMA is to reinforce cooperation in Research and Innovation in Mediterranean countries in order to contribute to the challenges of sustainable food production and water provision in the Mediterranean region.

The submission of the PRIMA proposal followed the adoption of the Competitiveness Council's conclusions of 5 December 2014.


The Impact Assessment process

In line with the indications provided in the Better Regulation Guidelines, and with the support of an external group of experts, the European Commission services are now performing an Impact Assessment of the PRIMA initiative. The purpose of this process is to analyse the need for an EU action in this domain and the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of the alternative policy options.


The Stakeholder Consultation process

The European Commission's Better Regulation Guidelines have strengthened the commitment to carry out consultations that are of a high quality, transparent, and reach all stakeholders.

In the context of the PRIMA Impact Assessment, the stakeholder consultation process will include at least the following two consultation activities:

Given the scope of the PRIMA initiative, consultation activities will target a wide range of stakeholders. Among the others: research organisations and associations of research organisations; universities and associations of universities; public authorities (including regional/local administrations); local communities; farmer associations; large businesses; SMEs; business associations; inter-governmental organisations; and NGOs.

The main objectives of these consultation activities are:

  • to collect data and information on the state-of-the-art of research and innovation in the field of water and food systems in the Mediterranean area
  • to collect input on the problem definition and on the scope of a potential EU intervention
  • to collect feedback on the different options for future research and innovation in the field of water and food systems in the Mediterranean area (including their impact)

Regular updates on the development and outcome of these consultation activities will be uploaded in this webpage.


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