Press Release - Common understanding between EU Ministers on financial instrument for Euro-Med Partnership in Research and Innovation
20.07.2012, 17:11 (CET)
EU Research Ministers today, Friday July 20, affirmed their commitment to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in research and innovation, as well as the readiness of their countries to engage in the preparation of a joint research programme for the Euro-Mediterranean region using article 185 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. The article enables the European Commission to take part in research programmes undertaken jointly by several Member States. The Ministers, who met during the Informal Competitiveness Council that took place in Lefkosia (Nicosia), also expressed their willingness to work towards simplification of research programmes in order to reduce administrative burden and ease access to participants.

The meeting was hosted by Minister Dr. Stavros Malas, who has the responsibility for the research portfolio during the Cyprus Presidency, with the participation of Ms Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Sciences, and of Research Ministers from the EU member states and the European Free Trade Area countries.

Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in Research and Innovation

The Ministers exchanged views on the promotion of the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in research and innovation, reiterating their willingness to work consistently towards a renewed partnership, based on the principles of co-ownership, mutual interest and shared benefit.

In Friday’s informal meeting, they underlined the commitment of their countries to participate in the preparation of a joint research programme for the region, using article 185 of the Treaty, which enables the European Commission to take part in research programmes undertaken jointly by several Member States. Also, there was broad acceptance by Ministers on focusing on themes that relate to the societal challenges affecting the region, namely, climate change and energy. Maritime and Social Sciences and Humanities were also raised as important themes for cooperation.

Minister Malas expressed his satisfaction for the outcome of the discussions taken place: “I am delighted to say that during this morning session we had a very constructive debate on the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation. Nearly all Ministers agreed that we need to move forward on a concrete and focus way for building-up, what we call for many years, Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, through a bi-regional approach, which seems to be the way forward. We have agreed that the recipe for formulating the research and innovation agenda is through identifying specific areas that are of particular importance for both European Partners and North-Africa and East-Mediterranean Partners. I am pleased to say that there was a great convergence on the instrument to be used for this purpose, which is article 185 of the Treaty”.

Simplification of Funding Models

During the afternoon session of the Informal Council, the Ministers had a lively and extensive discussion on the simplification package proposed by the European Commission.

There was an overwhelming consensus by Research Ministers that the rules concerning participation and dissemination under Horizon 2020 (H2020), the Union’s new funding programme for research and innovation for the period 2014-2020, need substantial simplification. However, different views were expressed by the Ministers on the funding model to be used for direct and indirect costs and on the remuneration of researchers in the Horizon 2020.

Minister Malas emphasised that “Europe has a duty to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of its research and innovation programmes in order to achieve its ambitions set in the Europe 2020 strategy. Simplification is indeed a technical, yet very important, political topic, that will affect the research community for the next years. The Cyprus Presidency has taken seriously into consideration the various statements made by the Ministers, which will be carefully evaluated, with the aim to reach an agreement at October’s Council meeting”.

Commissioner Quinn stressed that “simplification is in the heart of the European Commission’s agenda, and this was a request from many scientists, research organisations, the industry and SMEs in particularly. That is why the Commission’s proposal is rather a radical one, with an overarching simplified funding model, namely following a ‘one project-one funding rate-single indirect costs rate’ approach”. The Commissioner admitted as well that the Cyprus Presidency has a huge task to deliver, that is to reach ‘partial general approach’ on the rules for participation.

European Research Council (ERC)

During lunch, the Ministers had the opportunity to discuss the role of the ERC in encouraging high quality research in Europe, after two ERC grantees from the University of Cyprus presented their projects. Both Dr. Malas and the Commissioner agreed that the ERC, despite its very short history, has become an international benchmark for bottom-up research.

Presidency Spokesperson in Cyprus
Costas Yennaris

Mobile: +357 99400234
Planning Officer, Communications Officer
Charalambos Soteriou

Planning Bureau
Research and Innovation
Telephone: +357 22602875

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