Slovenia part of upcoming Mediterranean research partnership

Brussels, 30 May - Slovenia is part of a strategically important initiative for the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), which is to be brought to life in a few weeks, Tomaž Boh, a state secretary at the Education, Science and Sport Ministry, said after an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

The EU's competitiveness ministers discussed today a report on the upcoming ten-year partnership, which Boh said would have around EUR 450m available for funding research focused on sustainable water management and food production over the next ten years.

Slovenia is to contribute EUR 100,000 annually, or a total of EUR 1m, over the ten-year lifetime of the partnership.

Over EUR 200m for the partnership's operation is to be collected in contributions of participating states, matched by EU funding from the Horizon 2020 programme.

The initiative brings together eleven EU members - Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain - and eight other countries - Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunis and Turkey.

According to Boh, the initiative is extremely important for boosting science diplomacy and connecting Europe with Northern Africa in an area that is not politically delicate.

He said Slovenia would get much more for the same money through the partnership, while it also opened doors for Slovenian researchers into the Mediterranean, where they otherwise had limited access.

Participating in the initiative moreover multiplies the funding available to Slovenian universities, companies and institutes for research and innovation in the areas of food and water, the state secretary said.

Boh hopes the process will continue as swiftly as possible and that the necessary agreements will soon be signed with the third countries participating in PRIMA, so that concrete activities can start as soon as possible.

The ministers also agreed today on the harmonisation of reporting in the area of research and innovation to reduce administrative burdens, which Boh finds especially important for small countries like Slovenia.