Developing A Common Knowledge and Innovation Space

JAN2Q2, European Parliament, Brussels – 31 March 2015

On March 31 2015 a conference jointly organized by the EU Commission and the European Parliament, titled “Building Together Knowledge-oriented Forward-looking EU Neighbourhood: Developing A Common Knowledge and Innovation Space”, took place in Brussels, at the European Parliament. The conference featured a number of panellists coming from the research and innovation community from both the Eastern and the Southern European neighbourhood.

After the initial greetings and opening remarks of the co-chairing persons, respectively Mr Elmar Brok, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), and Mr Jerzy Buzek, Chair of the Industry, Technology, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE), the word has been given to the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Mr Carlos Moedas. The Commissioner has introduced the conference through a brief overview of the state of the art international cooperation in research and innovation and the recent achievements of the EU in these matters, as well as the way forward foreseen by the EU commission.

Mr Moedas illustrated the European vision of science, technology and innovation as potential vehicles of mutual understanding, which could help building a stable environment and overcome political and religious barriers. Science diplomacy is essential to peace and stability and the elevated language of science is universal and therefore uniting. This is why Horizon 2020 is both an instrument for science and for peace.

The commissioner than mentioned a number of past and on going EU funded projects in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood as well as in the Middle East, such as SESAME or PRIMA. The Middle East research and Innovation Dialogue – MERID project, is located precisely within this context and it is meant to be a tool that contributes to overcome barriers through science and help building trust, mutual understanding and cooperative behaviour. Moedas concluded stressing that science diplomacy should begin with our neighbours, and should be founded in common values and visions of the future.

Mrs Marite Seile, the Latvian Minister for Education and Science, has then mentioned how research and innovation are important drivers of social and economic development and therefore of jobs: international research cooperation could only contribute to ensuring economic prosperity. This is why the neighbourhood policy is a key priority of the Latvian presidency, which aims at creating an environment of trust in the region by fostering dialogue. Latvia has indeed a short past with the Eastern partnership and deeply care about the Eastern neighbourhood. The minister mentioned the Ucraine case which is associated with scientific excellence, where Latvia hosts many Ucranian researchers involved in new pipeline technologies’ research.

The rest of the conference has been devoted to the presentation of case-studies and best practices in two different regional sessions. The first one addressed the Southern Neighbourhood and featured panellists from the European External Action Service, the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Commission’s DG ELARG and protagonists of former Framework Programmes’ success stories coming from all around the MENA region. The second one addressed the Eastern Neighbourhood and addressed mainly the Ucranian state of the art in scientific research and innovation, but featured also speakers from Moldova and other European counterparts.

The occasion was saluted by Ms Cristina Russo, the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation ‘International Cooperation’ Director, as a historical event, due to the fact that is was framed within the first ever ITRE-AFET joint parliamentary committee. Her closing remarks stressed how the private sector and the scientific community are two essential stakeholders of innovation and that could bring about social and economic prosperity in Europe and its surroundings.