In recent years, Malta, through MCST, has renewed and re-focussed its efforts to take on a more strategic role in the co-design of effective policies and measures in the Euro-Mediterranean region in coordination with the other Euro-Med partners and the European Commission. This has led MCST to become more actively engaged in supporting international initiatives and projects targeted primarily at the Mediterranean Region.
Participation by local entities in Euro-Mediterranean initiatives dates back to 1995 when Malta became one of the founding members of the Monitoring Committee for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in Research and Innovation. MoCo, as it is named, is aimed at monitoring and promoting cooperation in Research, Technology and Development. It serves as a policy dialogue platform bringing together EU Member States and all Mediterranean countries with the remit of making recommendations for the joint implementation of RTD and innovation policy priorities.
Apart from its participation in MoCo, MCST has also been actively engaged in the following EU-Med projects:
The ‘Mediterranean Science, Policy, Research & Innovation Gateway’ is a coordination and support action set up with FP7 funding. The project builds on the previous experience of the INCO-Net MIRA, but is adapted to the new reality of Euro-Mediterranean policy and the general orientations defined in the Euro-Mediterranean Conference held in Barcelona in April 2012. MEDSPRING addresses three societal challenges; Energy, High Quality Affordable Food, and Scarcity of resources, and aims at tackling policy objectives by creating a dialogue and coordination platform of governmental institutions, research organisations, associations and civil society.
The main aim of this ERANET project is to enhance Euro-Mediterranean co-ownership through innovation and competitive research in the societal challenges of the region. The project aims to reduce the fragmentation of programming in the Mediterranean region by increasing coordination among national research programmes of European Member States, Associated Countries and Mediterranean Partner Countries. The project’s transnational call for proposals in November 2014 targeted renewable energy, water resources, and their intersection within the Mediterranean region. Malta (through MCST) has committed funds to support Maltese participation in the Call.
This is another ERANET project that is aimed at coordinating national research activities among the countries of the Mediterranean area, and is specifically dedicated to the field of agricultural research. A transnational call for proposals was launched in September 2014 for consortia to develop possible solutions to tackle Mediterranean agricultural challenges. MCST will provide funding for successful local researchers in this call.
This partnership in Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area or ‘PRIMA’ is a recent Euro-Med initiative that is currently being considered by the Commission. PRIMA is aimed at promoting a more permanent collaboration among MS and countries in the Mediterranean region and it is expected to replace and build on the existing ERANET-MED and ARIMNET II projects. Indeed, these ERANET projects currently serve as ‘pilots’ to test the potential for calls addressing Mediterranean challenges to successfully engage stakeholders in the region, including Maltese researchers. PRIMA will address topics relating to food systems and water resources, touching on several other thematic areas including health, climate change, energy, biodiversity, coastal sea management and agriculture. The PRIMA initiative is currently in preparation phase, and Malta, through MCST, has taken an active role in the activities that will hopefully lead to its launch under Malta’s Presidency in 2017.