Project funded by the Horizon2020 Programme of the European Union


Science diplomacy

What does science diplomacy mean? How researchers can contribute to the development of science diplomacy processes and what communications can do to improve their results?

We asked the point of view of Prof. Luk Van Langenhove, professor expert on the subject who has recently published the report “Tools for Science Diplomacy” in collaboration with DG Research, Science and Innovation of the European Commission.

Prof. Dr. Luk Van Langenhove is research professor at the Institute for European Studies at the VUB University of Brussels and Scientific coordinator of H2020-funded project El-Csid.

Would you like to share your opinion on Science Diplomacy too? Please write us at
#MeridSciDip #Merid #SciDip

The point of view of a young Iranian student on Science Diplomacy #MeridSciDip

Many different reasons bring people moving between countries and living abroad for various periods of times: professional improvement, curiosity, necessity. The experiences they live add values to their cultural baggage and often provide valid contribution to the development of their home countries.

Reihaneh Eshraghi is an Iranian student who studies in Italy and who is currently doing a traineeship in Brussels in Public Affairs. On the basis of these experiences, Reihaneh gives her point of view on the benefits and the struggles of cultural exchange opportunities.

Would you like to share your opinion on Science Diplomacy too? Please write us at

Rami M. Ayoubi is Senior International Development Consultant. PhD Supervisor School of Management at Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Last year, he participated at the regional event organized by MERID in Beirut. As a researcher with direct experience in the field of scientific exchanges between countries and international programmes of funding for research, we asked him to share with us his ideas, hopes and critiques about the state of science diplomacy.

According to the current situation, which are, in your opinion, the most significant difficulties that science diplomacy faces? Could these difficulties be considered actual limits for science diplomacy?

I think that science diplomacy is an innovative concept and activity by itself. If implemented comprehensively, science diplomacy could result in better life for people. However, there are constraints and difficulties which could limit its implementation. In summary, the main challenges are around three major constraints: macro support from governments, implementation support from funding bodies, and micro support from the scientists themselves.

I listed some of these below:

  • There is no comprehensive approach to science diplomacy. It is rather micro small attempts from activists in cultural and science dialogue.
  • The policy of most countries is still under-represented when it comes to science diplomacy.
  • The traditional view of people towards scientist as non-leader of change in the society, makes it very difficult to get positive public opinion in most countries when it comes to border-less science.
  • Most scientists around the world are not lobbying enough with each other aiming at establishing organizations of scientists without borders.
  • The funding bodies, including the European Commission, should play and pay a bigger attention and role to potential projects that would enhance dialogue and science diplomacy between nations. MERID is a good example, but the question is how many MERIDs are there?

Do you think that science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the topics of instability and migration?

When it comes to issues like instability and migration, I prefer to adopt the scientists’ dialogue. In my opinion, I think that the scientific approach of most scientists and their objective approach of putting solutions to global issues will help for better life internationally. Therefore, science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the current critical topics of instability and migration. However, this is very much linked to the current difficulties that scientists are facing with the biased behavior of some of their governments. The scientific approach of creating solutions to instability and migration with a flavor of leadership skills and diplomacy skills will enhance the possibility to create some immediate solutions that could ease these issues.

Can you describe whether and how the MERID project has an impact on your activities?

I think the aims of the MERID project are both holistic and doable. Myself, when I first participated in the activities of this project, I was not very clear of its outcomes. However, by time and after joining some of its activities and practicing science diplomacy practices through the workshops, I felt personally that this project will have an impact on my current activities and work. Working previously with Erasmus+ in Syria, with the Ministry of higher education and currently as adviser for international development at Cardiff Met university in UK, the MERID project enhanced my thoughts towards science diplomacy with the current Syrian Government (despite the European sanctions), and supported my current activities at Cardiff Met of working with colleagues towards establishing global academies for global crisis solutions.

Since 2015, MERID project has been working to contribute to the development of science diplomacy, with a particular focus on the Middle East region, through the organization of webinars, regional events, dissemination of information, etc.., mainly addressing the issues of brain circulation and science diasporas. 

MERID project includes 13 partners from 13 European and Middle East countries, coordinated by Euro-Mediterranean University EMUNI.

Follow MERID activities on Facebook and Twitter!


Yesterday Professor Van Lagenhove, research professor at the Institute of European Studies at the VUB in Belgium, has been interviewed by the EU Research & Innovation Magazine on the state of the art of science diplomacy in Europe. From the interview has emerged that “Some countries, such as Switzerland or Spain, have a well-developed strategic vision on what they want to achieve by their science diplomacy efforts. Spain is an interesting example, because they are quite innovative in how they use the concept of science diplomacy and how they link it to a number of practices, including this quite interesting practice of a shadowing system, where they invite scientists to shadow diplomats for a while, and vice versa. That’s good at raising awareness among scientists, and that is definitely needed because one of the problems of science diplomacy might well be that we are not really sure how the scientists themselves look at it. There might be some reluctance (which would cause) some to say, “Well what’s this? I’m a scientist, I’m not a diplomat. Why do you want to use me for state interests?” Hence, raising awareness is definitely a very important issue.’

In addition, the EU Research & Innovation Magazine states that: “The universal language of science’ can keep channels of communication open in the absence of other viable policy approaches, according to Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science.

One example of science diplomacy in action is the SESAME particle accelerator in Jordan that brings together scientists from Middle East countries, including Israel and Palestine.”

Professor Van Lagenhove recently wrote a report on the development of science diplomacy in EU.

For more information about the interview visit the website:

If you want to download the report follow the link:

Interview conducted by:



Dr. Chafic Mokbel is Secretary General of UoB Research Council at the University of Balamand, Lebanon. As a professor with knowledge of MERID project and direct experience in the field of international research programmes, we asked him to share with us his ideas, hopes and critiques about the state of science diplomacy.

According to the current situation, which are, in your opinion, the most significant challenges that science diplomacy faces?

Science diplomacy is set to cope with divides, and the difficulties it faces are inherently related to the divides or the differences that can exist at all levels. In my opinion, some of the most important challenges, resulting from major differences and facing science diplomacy, are presented hereafter:

  • The research topic of interest. Globalisation has made global nearly every research topic of interest. This being said, the relative priorities may differ significantly from one context to another. Fortunately, mechanisms have been introduced in different research and academic development supporting programmes to consider the local relative priorities. H2020 and Erasmus+ programmes, for example, engage active dialogue with partner countries and experts in order to better respond to local needs/interests. They also offer the opportunity to partner institutions to manage projects. To better profit from such opportunities, an efficient and effective process to determine and update the local research priorities/needs is needed.
  • The process for the management of research. The processes for the development of research activities have been extensively developed in the past decades. Although existing, this development did not follow the same pace in all countries, as well as the support for research. For instance, issues like relevance, innovation management, technology transfer and others have not been well tackled in some countries. A very important issue, especially concerning developing countries, is the transparency method to access research funds. Eventually, the development of research in partner countries is hugely, if not exclusively, dependent on the resources allocated in international programmes of science diplomacy. Personally, I believe that more balanced conditions would certainly help increasing the impact of science diplomacy.
  • Research in the developing countries is mainly conducted within the higher education sector. This sector is characterised by an increasing teaching load due to the massive enrolment in universities. The increasing teaching load reinforces the divide between the higher education and the socio-economic development. The role of the universities is mainly teaching. On the contrary, in industrial countries, universities are often at the centre of socio-economic development. In my opinion, a better organisation of the whole higher education sector could lead to a more efficient education framework.

Do you think that science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the topics of instability and migration?

Science diplomacy has a confirmed role in reducing the divides. For the same reason, it plays a positive role in stability and limiting migration. However, it is a topic that has to be managed with care, in order to maximize this positive impact without creating disappointments. If science diplomacy fails, there is an important risk of losing hope in local development, which would endanger the stability or at least increase the migration. Science diplomacy shall not be about the access to knowledge in a more globalised world than ever. It is a more critical topic, that is about the culture of change and the way to stay connected to the advancements in today’s world. The outcomes of science diplomacy in reducing instability and migration seem to depend on the chance of success that a minimal set of transparent processes and structures obtains in connecting highly qualified scientists to the local socio-economic development.

Can you describe whether and how the MERID project has an impact on your activities?

I attended several MERID meetings that allowed me to better understand the H2020 processes. Moreover, I have understood in those meetings several other technical aspects in different domains. This helped me in promoting ideas, within my University and colleagues, which have kept my research activities relevant to the state of the art.

Since 2015, MERID project has been working to contribute to the development of science diplomacy, with a particular focus on the Middle East region, through the organization of webinars, regional events, dissemination of information, etc.., mainly addressing the issues of brain circulation and science diasporas. 

MERID project includes 13 partners from 13 European and Middle East countries, coordinated by Euro-Mediterranean University EMUNI.

Follow MERID activities on Facebook and Twitter!


Interview conducted by


Nesreen Ghaddar is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director Munib and Angela Masri Institute at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Last year, she participated at two regional events organized by MERID, in Barcelona and Beirut. As a professor and scientist with direct experience in the field of scientific exchanges between countries, we asked her to share with us her ideas, hopes and criticism about the state of science diplomacy.

According to the current situation, which are, in your opinion, the most significant difficulties that science diplomacy faces? Could these difficulties be considered actual limits for science diplomacy?

The most common issues are related to travel and visa limitations, difficulties to access funding opportunities and scholarships, difficulties to work and study abroad, struggles to have skills and competence recognized. You can also add language barriers. Much of the achieved work never gets translated to Arabic and therefore struggles to reach those who could benefit from the project outcomes. To achieve better results, to have higher impact, it would be important to have much of the results available in several languages, including Arabic.

How do governments and universities relate to science diplomacy projects?

Collaborative projects on science with relevance to Europe and MENA need additional support from MENA governments, who actually do not all use the outcomes of the project or involve talent in development of their solutions and policies. Unfortunately, corruption level is high and performance appreciation is always lacking.
There are no language barriers between scientists from Europe or MENA, since all can communicate the technical language. But Universities have different approaches about systems and support to research.

– How do you value events like the MERID regional conferences? Do they bring a contribution to build bridges between scientists and stakeholders?

Universities are great place to engage in this endeavor and conferences like the MERID regional events are a venue for our scientific and professional community to engage and foster dialogue between scientists, professionals and developers of standards and policies, in order to involve young people and professionals in developing and implementing solutions for sustainable future.

In May 2016, I participated at the MERID regional event that was held in Barcelona. I was one of the speakers in the panel about “Energy and Water: Key Societal Challenges and Key Opportunities for Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation”. This is when I realized the importance of the work we do with our EU partner researchers. We spoke about the effect of global warming and migration of people from intolerable hot climates to cooler climates of Europe, the lack of decent work opportunities for young people that displaces them to find jobs elsewhere in addition to political instability.

Do you think that science diplomacy could have a proactive role for the topics of instability and migration?

EU funded projects have enabled scientists from Europe and the Middle East to work together, break barriers of mistrust, improve understanding the level of research skills people of the MENA region have, and how to find common grounds for joint projects and learn from each other. When projects target not only the scientific objectives, but also the social and business aspects, then development takes place. In particular, the involvement of women in these projects is essential, because of lack of role models of women in science that can influence young generation of women to move forward and work towards successful careers.

EU calls for research could play an important role in addressing the topics of instability and migration: scientists could be able to offer innovative solutions both relevant to the topic and targeting youth involvement. When both scientists and social scientists are able to work together, this kind of interdisciplinary research provides impactful solutions.

Since 2015, MERID project has been working to contribute to the development of science diplomacy, with a particular focus on the Middle East region, through the organization of webinars, regional events, dissemination of information, etc.., mainly addressing the issues of brain circulation and science diasporas. 

MERID project includes 13 partners from 13 European and Middle East countries, coordinated by Euro-Mediterranean University EMUNI.

Follow MERID activities on Facebook and Twitter!

The workshop will take place at Smart Villages, Cairo, 18-20th of April 2017.

For more information, follow this link to the CMI website

The workshop will serve as a platform, where STP-managers and STP-tenants from the MENA region (universities, industrial tenants, research institutes, incubators, technology transfer offices, technology platforms, venture funds, research centres and entrepreneurship networks) will share their experiences in order to draw lessons about what is essential for them as a member of the STP’s ecosystem and what metric could be used, not only to measure their performance but also the impact that the STP has on their performance and upon innovation, economic growth and job creation.


23th of February 2017

The Arab Water Week (AWW) is an international meeting in the Arab region which tackles water management issues through establishing innovative partnerships and platforms of collaborative work on water issues in the region. The importance of this meeting lies in providing a platform for greater coordination among the existing network of key stakeholders active in the water sector in the region. The Arab Water Week (AWW) does not only provide an opportunity to enhance communication flows, synergies and the sharing of successful experiences, but as well, it will facilitate the creation of new partnerships that complement and maximize the impact of on-going work in this sector for the benefit of all countries in the region.

Date: 19 – 23 March 2017

Venue: Kempinski Hotel Ishtar, Dead Sea, Jordan


Registration: here



To submit proposals, interested scientists should first register with the SESAME User Office. This can be done at ( the instructions therein.

The deadline for receiving proposal is on March 15, 2017 at 23:59, Jordanian time

Before submitting a proposal, interested scientists are encouraged to contact the two SESAME beamline scientists Gihan Kamel and Messaoud Harfouche  for proposals related to the IR and XAFS/XRF beamlines respectively, who can advise on the technical possibilities of the instruments available at SESAME.

They should also consult the SESAME User Policy at ( which governs access to the laboratory. SESAME practices an open access policy, with no restriction on the nationality of its users or the institution from which they come.

Users from one of the SESAME Members ( whose home institution is unable to cover their travel and lodging expenses may apply for funds made available by the Lounsbery Foundation for this purpose.

Users from the European Union and Associated Countries may be able to apply for travel support thanks to a consortium of all European synchrotrons and free electron lasers coordinated by Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) ( that SESAME has joined, which in March 2016 submitted a Horizon 2020 proposal to the European Union for an Integrating Activity named “CALIPSOplus”. This proposal has been positively evaluated and will receive funding for 4 years with effect from 2017. The project is presently in the negotiation phase. More updates will be available in the spring of 2017.

We thank you in advance for your interest in using SESAME as an advanced tool for your research!


22nd of February 2017

In partnership with the German-Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GACIC), the Euro Institute for Information and Technology Transfer (EITEP) is organizing the “Pipeline-Pipe- Sewer-Technology Conference & Exhibition (PPST)” which will be held between the 17th and 19th of September 2017 in Cairo, Egypt. This unique event provides an opportunity to discuss a sufficient supply of both energy and water as well as sewage disposal, which builds the infrastructural basis for economic prosperity.
This global event is dedicated to transfer latest technologies developed in and for industrialized countries to the huge evolving markets in Africa and the Middle East, which profit from proven reliable pipeline, pipe and sewer technologies. Everyone is invited to become engaged by sharing your experiences and exchanging information on technologies, best practice and possible solutions.

For more information please visit


21 February 2017

On 2nd January 2017, Dr. Rabi Mohtar, a TEES Endowed Professor at Texas A&M University, College Station, and leader of the water, energy, and food nexus research group, discussed water and food security in the Middle East and North Africa during an interview with Ms. Rachel Bahn of the Food Security Program at the American University of Beirut.


The Texas A&M Water, Energy, and Food Nexus Research Group works to identify the new tools that will provide societies and their policy makers with the information required for informed decision making in order to bridge the anticipated global water gap for the agricultural sector.


The interview can be viewed on Youtube:

Download Gaza event – Brief Report


On 8 February 2017, the Islamic University of Gaza in cooperation with partners involved in the implementation of the Horizon 2020-funded MERID project (coordinated by EMUNI), is hosting a series of panel sessions on the topic of “Renewable Energy for Desalination: Innovative Research Solutions for Gaza” with renowned experts and researchers representing organisations such as the Middle East Desalination Research Centre, UNICEF or the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, among others.

After the conclusion of the debate sessions, a training event will take place where Ms. Tanya Dimitrova-Policy Officer at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, will introduce the EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020.


Gaza, 8 February, 2017

Almashtal Hotel

09h30 – 09h40       Registration

09h40 – 10h15       Opening remarks

Mohammed Shabat, Islamic University of Gaza, Partner in Horizon 2020 funded-project MERID

Adel Awadallah, President, The Islamic University of Gaza

R El Sheikh, Deputy Head, Palestinian Water Authority

Andrea Carignani, Head of Unit “EU Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf”, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission

Lucas Cibor, European External Action Service

Sophie Collette, Policy Officer, Office of the European Union Representative to West Bank and Gaza Strip, Unrwa

10h15 – 11h15     Panel session 1: Good practice exchange and lessons learnt from the region and EU

Jauad El Kharraz, Head of Research, Middle East Desalination Research Centre (MEDRC)

Mahmoud Shatat, Water and Sustainable Energy Specialist, Water and Sanitation Program Manager, OXFAM GB.

EU funded FP7 MED-CSD project

Gregor von Medeazza, Chief Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, UNICEF


11h15 – 11h30       Coffee break

11h30 – 12h30       Panel session 2: From research results to policy recommendations

Piero de Bonis, DG Research and Innovation (via video conference with Brussels)

Violeta Kuzmickaiteec, DG Research and Innovation (via video conference with Brussels)

Ahmad Baraka, Research and Development Head of Department, Palestinian Water Authority

Local initiatives

  • Mahmoud Qedra, Solar system using Parabolic through solar energy collector for water desalination unit
  • Banan Alhalaq, Solar Households Unit for Water Desalination


12h30 – 13h00       Conclusions


EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 – How and where to apply?


Gaza, 8 February 2017

Almashtal Hotel


14:00 – 14:15          Welcoming words

Ministry of Education (via video conference with Ramallah)

Andrea Carignani, Head of Unit “EU Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf”, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission

14:15- 14:45            General presentation of the EU Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020

Tanya Dimitrova, Policy Officer “EU Neighbourhood, Africa and the Gulf”, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission


14:45 – 15:00          Coffee break

15:00 – 17:30          Nicola Tucci, Horizon 2020 training session

  • How to prepare and draft a successful proposal?
  • How to find partners and build a consortium?
  • Methodology
  • On-going open calls for proposals


17:30                      Closure & Informal networking cocktail


Online webinar,

15 February 2017

11.00 AM (CET)

Join us for free!

This webinar will be the first of a series of MERID webinars providing information on how to increase the participation of Middle Eastern researchers in Horizon2020 Research and Innovation  programme enhancing research and innovation cooperation. The webinar broadcast on 15 February 2017 will focus on a particular measure of H2020, the MSCA-RISE. RISE is one of the 4 types of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions, whose general objective is to support research training and career development for researchers at all stages, targeting innovation skills by encouraging transnational, intersectoral and interdisciplinary mobility. Supporting excellent researchers for excellent research.

The webinar, after a brief overview of the measure and type of action, will focus on good practices to provide a practical guidance for potential beneficiaries. In particular, the case of the RISE  CLUSDEV MED will be presented, where the main objective is to build joint collaborative projects for developing clusters as new potential instruments to reinforce research in the food, water and energy sectors by drawing together academic research teams from the EU and Mediterranean countries with multidisciplinary skills and expertise in the field of clusters.

Join us here for the webinar: platform. We advise downloading the latest version of this platform by clicking here before the webinar. In order to get familiar on how the platform works, please click here.

The webinar is organized and delivered by the MERID project’s partners CIHEAM Bari and Europe for Business.

The webinars attendance is free and open to everybody.

Register now to select the time of webinar!

Registration form:



Supporting documents available:
H2020-MSCA-RISE-2017 Part A and Part B template h2020-call-pt-msca-rise-2016-17_en
H2020 Work Programme 2016 – 2017: lET5qk-h2020-wp1617-msca_en
RISE 2016 – Research Policy Brief: khB9e8-RISE-2016-Research-Policy-Brief
RISE 2016 Support Document – Analysis of funded and unsuccessful proposals: RISE-2016-Support-Document-Analysis-of-funded-and-unsuccessful-proposals


11th of January 2017



King Hussein Cancer Center, American University of Beirut Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center is organising a Joint Conference, that will be held on 24-25 March 2017.  The conference will discuss multiple topics, such as Neurooncology, Thoracic and Head and Neck Oncology, Gastrointestinal Oncology, Genitourinary Oncology, Gynecologic Oncology and Supportive Care.


Abstract submission deadline: February 15, 2017 at


For more details please view the attachment.

ATTACHMENT: Save The Date- 2nd announcement

Towards enhancing framework conditions for cooperation between the European Union and the Middle East

Press Release

Beirut (Lebanon), 1 December 2016. National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) Lebanon hosted MERID regional event with the title Towards enhancing framework conditions for cooperation between the European Union and the Middle East that took place on 1 December 2016. The aim of event was to address and discuss the remaining obstacles in cooperation in the field of science and research between the EU and Middle Eastern countries and capitalize the already existing collaboration frameworks. Event was further split to two moderated panel sessions, where experts from Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria shared their experience on intellectual property rights policy, scientific visas and open access arrangements. Second moderated panel discussion was focused in management of technology and energy as two examples of concrete cooperation between the two regions.

In welcoming remarks, Mouïn Hamze (Secretary General of the CNRS-L), Jose Vinuesa (Sustainable Development Section, EU Delegation to Lebanon), Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry (President of the Euro-Mediterranean University, EMUNI) and Tanya Dimitrova (DG Research and Innovation, European Commission) emphasized the need for increased and enhanced cooperation, building trust, boosting cooperation in the areas, where collaboration already exists and surpass the remaining obstacles that are hindering the cooperation. Jose Vinuesa pointed out that in today’s globalized world, no major challenge can be solved without strong cooperation in science and research. In addition, he advocates the need for building trust among regions and the endeavours for stability and security. In this context, Tanya Dimitrova briefly presented the Horizon 2020 programme as an instrument that supports experts, policy makers and researchers to build upon new ideas and initiatives. The EU and the Middle East are facing certain societal challenges that can be addressed only in close collaboration between the regions. Abdlehamid El-Zoheiry stressed the fact that there are many areas of cooperation between the EU and the Middle East, but still too many obstacles obstruct the exploitation of their full potential.

The keynote speech was delivered by Alessandro Ovi, Vice President of the Foundation for World Wide Cooperation, who highlighted the international and regional cooperation from different angle. Language of science has no boarders, therefore it serves as a tool for creation of peace. It is of crucial importance that the intellectual resources in each institution and country is fully explored and exploited. This is how we can properly address the topic, draft recommendations, do the mapping, design policies or prepare reports on how to improve the cooperation in certain area. Cooperation can be also lifted by encompassing people from different cultures and religions – this is what we call movement of connections. If people from different background sit around the same table, we create the most efficient atmosphere to address the topic and, moreover, combat against extremist ideologies and bridge the cultural and religious gaps.

In setting the scene, Marie Vandendriessche (ESADE Business and Law School), George Bonas (CeRISS) and Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry (EMUNI) presented conclusions of MERID conference in Barcelona (May 2016), touched upon the progress of preparing the stocktaking report and pointed out those obstacles that affect the cooperation the most.

First moderated panel was dedicated to explore the state of intellectual property rights, scientific visa and open access. Experts from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon presented their experience in tackling these areas and in particular, shared the country’s regulatory frame and where improvements can be made. Two main findings can be extracted from the panel: there are no single and unified regulations for these areas, but there is a space for synergies; research is in many countries underfinanced and subject to changing yearly budget.

Second moderated panel on management of technology and energy was more thematically focused, since our aim was to see how the topics, elaborated in the first panel, affect the cooperation in concrete projects. Two findings can be listed at the end of the panel: there are already ongoing projects with the EU counterparts in both areas; there is a need for enhancing the trust building process between the institutions from the EU and the Middle East.

The live streaming was followed by more than 70 people. Full details of the event, included the live twitting report, can be found on MERID channels: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Conclusions of the event will be available soon.





merid lancioxcf

MERID regional event: towards enhancing framework conditions for cooperation between the European Union and the Middle East

CNRS-L (Jnah Beirut), Lebanon, Thursday, 1 December 2016

The aim of the event is to tackle the existing framework conditions for cooperation focusing on one or more specific thematic societal challenges.

The specificities of the event are to discuss the IPR structure, scientific visas and open access arrangements with Iranian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian experts, coming from academia and policy-making sector.

For more info about the agenda, please consult:

The event will start at 9.30 am (local time).

You can watch the live streaming here:


PRESS RELEASE by logo efcb

29th of November 2016


Over 90 participants amongst which EU clusters, European industrial federations, Iranian counterparts and high-level speakers made the EU-IRAN Cluster Cooperation Event in Tehran, Iran, on 17-18 October 2016 an important step forward in building mutually beneficial cooperation!

The EU-IRAN Cluster Cooperation Matchmaking Event took place within the context of the EU Economic Mission led by Commissioner Bienkowska in Tehran on 17-18 October 2016. The event was organised by the European Commission, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH), in close co-operation with the European External Action Service (EEAS) and facilitated by the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP). During this mission, there were representatives from 14 European clusters and about 10 European industrial federations covering several key sectors of common interest (incl. biotech, automotive, raw materials, tourism, textile,construction and greentech). They had the opportunity to meet each other in Iran, and benefit from on-the-ground knowledge via several sectoral site visits organised by six EU Member States’ embassies in Tehran. This reinforced the partnership between the Commission, Member States and EU business organisations.


foto efcb 2


The first day started with a morning session introduced by Commissioner Bienkowska with the representatives of European industrial federations and industrial & innovation clusters.

While mentioning existing obstacles to the development of a fruitful cooperation with Iran, the Commissioner Bienkowska insisted on the motivation of both sides building a cooperation with mutual benefits. The participants also benefited from the experience of two experts: Mr Daniel Gottschald, who provided some valuable advices on market and cooperation perspectives building upon his concrete experience with Iranian partners of the Kerman province and Mr Eric Ligthart, from the Embassy of the Netherlands, who described the current financial obstacles to the development of the commercial relations with Iran. In the afternoon the conference on Economic, Industrial and Investment Opportunities at the Trade and Promotion Organisation (TPO) took place. It was opened by the Minister Nematzadeh, Minister of Trade, Industry and Mines and co-chaired with the Commissioner Bienkowska.  Both the representatives of Iranian and EU associations of industries and clusters participated. This event also launched the EU-Iran regulatory and industrial policy dialogue with the intervention from Mr Eric Mamer,Director  for Competitiveness and European Semester of DG GROWTH of the European Commission, who explained that this dialogue aims at improving the business environment to facilitate further economic exchanges in mutual interest.


EU-Iran cluster matchmaking event, Teheran, 2016

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After the conference, the Cluster cooperation matchmaking event was initiated.

It allowed all the European clusters and the representatives of industrial sectors to meet an sizeable Iranian delegation. A lot of bilateral exploratory meetings took place and the general opinion of European clusters representatives was that there is a strong interest from Iranian side for European investments, joint ventures, both technological and commercial, and cooperation with European clusters and companies. Some initial promising contacts should be noted and which could lead, after a proactive follow-up, to an effective cooperation with the Iranian private sector.

On the second day, the EU delegation benefited from on-the-ground knowledge via the key sectors (biotech, automotive, raw materials, tourism, construction and textile + one industrial park) site visits organized by six Member States Embassies in Tehran and had the opportunity of exchanging with Iranian experts in their area of activity. Here is a testimony from an EU cluster delegation participant:

“I participated in the site visit to Teheran Wastewater Treatment Plant, organized by the Austrian Embassy. The visit was perfectly prepared. The Iranian host was prepared for the visit very well, I had the opportunity to see an energy production related installation– the internal biogas plant. I took part in the discussion on the management of sewage sludge, which actually is a serious problem for Teheran. There is a real possibility to collaborate with Teheran Wastewater Treatment Plant, but the essential condition in order to achieve this potential future cooperation is to organize a professional EU comprised of companies and to involve the proper, credible economic partners of Iran.”

Furthermore, a meeting took place between the representatives of the Commission, ECCP team and the Iranian Small Industries & Industrial Parks Organization (ISIPO) ( which is affiliated to the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade. This fruitful meeting showed that there is a significant potential of cooperation between the ECCP Platform and ISIPO to build partnerships with the Iranian business clusters and industrial parks in mutual interestThe visit of the PARDIS Technology Park (, which is considered as the most pioneering technology park in Iran, also demonstrated that there is a potential for cooperation with Iranian start-ups in high tech industries, including biotech, ICT and Nano tech.

IRAMOT Conference Plays a Prominent Role in Technology and Innovation Dialogue

Iranian Association for Management of Technology (IRAMOT), is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which strives to promote the highest quality education and research in the fields of Technology and Innovation Management. Towards this goal, IRAMOT has organized the “6th International Conference on Management of Technology” to be held on December 07-08, 2016 in Tehran, Iran. The main theme of the conference is “Technological Learning and Competitiveness in the Context of International Interactions”.

The IRAMOT Annual Conference is the largest gathering of leading representatives from industry, academia and policy-makers in the fields of Innovation and Technology Management in the Middle East, bringing together more than 900 participants. This Conference is a leading platform for information exchange, networking opportunities and new business development. During the conference, top managers of national and international companies will participate in and contribute to a number of expert panels to discuss the most relevant innovation and technology management challenges they face in specific sectors (energy, Oil, gas, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, agriculture, information and communication and etc.).

It should be mentioned that IRAMOT in partnership with ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF) will offer travel grants to assist the eligible participants from ECO member countries (Turkey, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), to attend the IRAMOT 2016 Conference.

Further details on IRAMOT 2016 can be found at: .

One of the aims of Merid project is to establish links and open connections with other bodies and projects dedicated to the relations between EU and MENA countries.

On 22nd June 2016, at Infopoint Europa in Bruxelles, we participated at a very interesting policy workshop on “Democracy, Youth and Social justice: challenges for Europe and the Middle East”, with the presentation of the state of art of three FP7-SSH funded research projects focusing on different aspects of transition in selected Middle East and North Africa (MENA)/South-East Mediterranean (SEM) countries: ArabTrans, Power2Youth and Sahwa. These projects bring together multiple partners from Europe and Arab countries to survey the changes occurred in the Arab Mediterranean countries after the “Arab Spring”, focusing in particular on youth, migration and jobs.

The event was leaded by Philippe Keraudren, Deputy head of Unit, DG RTD, Unit B.6 – Open and Inclusive Societies, with the participation of officials of the European Parliament: Perla Srour-Gandon, Policy Advisor, for Middle East and Gulf – Policy and research and Benjamin Rey, Policy Analyst for Middle East and North Africa of the Directorate General for External Policies.

Presentations of the projects were taken on by stakeholders and researchers such as Andrea Teti and Pamela Abbott from the University of Aberdeen, Maria Cristina Paciello of IAI Italian institute, Elena Sánchez-Montijano of the Barcelona Center for Global Affairs and Asuman Goksel from the Middle-East Technical University of Ankara, Turkey.

The presentations were followed by a lively debate about some very actual topics, such as borders control, security and social issues, which are strongly connected with the basic needs and hopes of young generations across the Mediterranean. Yet it was an interesting opportunity to create new partnerships between Europe, Africa and Middle East bodies in order to “co-create the future through new solutions that have the potential to ensure sustainability, participatory governance, openness and transparency in policies and markets and social cohesion” – as stated in the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2016 – 2017 issued by the European Commission.






Synthetic Conclusions from the Energy & Water Panel

Angel Saz-Carranza, Marie Vandendriessche, Alison Courtney

Conclusion 1: The need for science in public policy

Science introduces rationality into the public policymaking cycle.

All speakers on the panel were technical experts with strong, specialized knowledge on the scientific foundations of their field of study. They were thus able to provide policy-makers with concrete and indispensable information, both on their academic research fields and research cooperation in their fields.

Specific examples of how scientific data and research can improve public policy included:

  • Shatanawi (Jordan) and Rabi (Palestine) engaged in a conversation on possible technical solutions to the Dead Sea’s ongoing evaporation.

  • Shatanawi illustrated the critical energy-water nexus, arguing that energy produced through hydropower could in turn be used to provide drinking water, by powering the desalination plants which will become ever more necessary in the future, as the effects of climate change become apparent in the region.

  • Candela (Spain) underscored the need for specific cost-benefit analysis and financial sustainability in water projects, to guarantee their execution and survival.

  • Ghaddar (Lebanon) promoted out-of-the-box thinking to develop alternative solutions to address the modern-day and future challenge of global warming, including localized cooling systems, bioclimatic planning for outdoor thermal comfort, and the use of solar energy to power cooling and dehumidification solutions.

  • Al-Naseri (Iraq) provided a detailed diagnostic (rationally the first step in any policy-making process) of the water situation in Iraq, and highlighted the need to improve the energy efficiency of desalinization and water treatment processes.

  • From the audience, Woertz (Germany) raised the issue of complex interactions, for example, the behavioral and scientific research that has found that raising efficiency can drive consumption up (Jevons Paradox, or the rebound effect).

In short, scientific research and knowledge must be taken into account when designing policies, thereby introducing rationality into policymaking, which was also mentioned by Octavi Quintana-Trias (EC) in the previous panel.

However, as Ghaddar remarked, in order to create a mutually beneficial relation between science and politics, there is a stark need for trust between the two parties (as was also mentioned by Javier Solana in his key note speech). Science must trust politics and vice-versa. This requires enhanced transparency and openness in governance.

Recommendation 1: Foster dialogue between scientists and policymakers in order to increase the rationality of public policy.

Recommendation 2: In order to maximize the effectiveness and the scope of the science-policy dialogue, trust between scientists and policymakers is critical. Trust can be built and grown by improving the transparency of governance and its processes.

Conclusion 2: Adapt to the context. Develop appropriate technology & capacity-building

A key conclusion is that technological solutions are not automatically appropriate in different contexts, and that new technologies require specific capacity-building. Rabi, speaking from the Palestinian context, strongly advocated for the latter.

While Al-Naseri strongly supported science and technology to solve the main water issues confronting the region, Ghaddar complemented his remarks by underscoring that one-size-fits-all does apply in this case: confronted with climate change for example, some countries have gone nuclear, others are going solar.

Candela called for transposing, with the necessary adaptation to the local context, technologies which had proven successful in foreign settings. Spain’s experience during the past decades could be a guiding example, where scientists were trained abroad, then returned and adapted learnings to local context.

Asl-Soleimani (Iran) argued that there are critical problems with local engagement and knowledge: many programs are started; then abandoned because of lack of knowledge. He proposed, on the one hand, that it was necessary to improve knowledge of research and science so that people understand their usefulness for their daily lives.

On the other hand, and again speaking from the Iranian context, with which no formal and consistent research cooperation frameworks have existed up to now, Asl-Soleimani suggested that scientific cross-border cooperation should attempt to generate the necessary local institutions capable of producing locally appropriate technologies. In other words, he believed research funding should be used to set up practical or theoretical institutions in the destination countries in order to define research needs, develop new research and cooperation, and assist in determining the optimal distribution of research funds at the local level.

Recommendation 3: Ensure policies supporting science and research are adapted to local contexts, making sure to explore issue linkages when designing these policies.

Recommendation 4: Focus on local capacity-building, both (a) for the implementation of new technologies and (b) to determine local needs in terms of research funding and priorities.

Conclusion 3: Include input from non-governmental stakeholders to improve effectiveness, implementation and reach

Many panelists pointed out that involving all stakeholders in research planning was key in ensuring effectiveness; it is an important step in generating broad support along the full research life cycle. Involving businesses, civil stakeholders, and end users, particularly, was pointed out as a critical element. As such, several interesting points were put forward.

Candela suggested that strategic research plans involve stakeholders and users, and pointed out that in Spain, research funding is conditional on the involvement of all stakeholders, including users, in the project proposal phase.

Regarding business, a comment from the floor underscored that many technically viable solutions are hampered by the obstructing efforts of incumbent market players. Rabi thus replied that precisely because of this, business must be taken into account as a key stakeholder.

Ghaddar also pointed to the critical role of stakeholders in both research and education, suggesting to create alliances between hard sciences and humanities in order for the former to speak the language of the people. This may also help attract young talent, as well as improving research dissemination and communication.

Asl-Soleimani explained that this also applies in Iran, remarking that the mass emigration of scientists is in part due to the current governance, which has led to a clear lack of research facilities at home. In this context, he repeated the call for dialogue between scientists and policymakers to address this situation.

Lastly, again from the floor, Bogliotti proposed the idea that perhaps some sort of permanent platform or institution on water in the Mediterranean region could be set up, including all stakeholders, including governments and research institutions, in order to (a) advocate for change, including at the political level, and (b) substantiate and implement the solutions currently available rather than creating yet another shopping list of demands.

A comment from the floor underscored that a great deal of research has been carried out in the region, including on STI cooperation. However, there has been very little progress in implementation. One proposal is therefore to pause new research for one year, and simply implement existing research. This exercise will aid in identifying, among the countries of the region, the elements that are missing in order to reach the critical implementation phase.

Recommendation 5: Link businesses, technology, and research challenges: include all stakeholders – including businesses and end users – in research planning in order to ensure effectiveness of research outcomes and improve their chances of implementation.

Recommendation 6: Creating links between hard sciences and humanities and improving communication on research can both extend the reach of research outcomes and help to attract young talent to research fields.

Recommendation 7: Focus on implementing existing research outcomes first and identifying bottlenecks in implementation rather than embarking on new research funding and endeavors.

Driving Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation at EMUNI’s annual conference on Migration, Diaspora and Brain Circulation

Thursday, 12 May 2016, Barcelona, Spain

EMUNI’s 2016 annual conference, together with its General Assembly, and the regional event of project MERID (Horizon2020 project funded by the EU) addressed the role of diaspora in intercultural dialogue, trust-building and development cooperation between the European Union, Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East countries. Interactive discussions and lively debates examined the potential use of Diaspora as bridges for building trust and catalysts for cooperation and partnership in the Euro-Mediterranean region and Middle East. The event also aimed at employing science diplomacy in exploring new avenues of cooperation, particularly with Iran and Iraq.

The event, which was hosted by the ESADE Business School in Barcelona, hosted over 130 high profile participants, including heads of international organizations, rectors and vice-rectors of universities, senior academics and officials as well as policy-makers from 29 countries and international organisations. The keynote opening speech was given by Javier Solana, President of ESADEgeo – Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics.

Three lively panels including 18 high-profile pannelists discussed the constructive use of brain circulation to advance scientific cooperation and unleash the untapped potential of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern scientific communities. By employing science, technology and innovation in addressing the cross-cutting societal challenges of water and renewable energy in the region, the panel organised through the MERID project offered new avenues and identified potential obstacles for EI-Middle East cooperation. Resulting from the fruitful discussions, a set of recommendations of how to surpass the remaining obstacles in cooperation between the European and the Middle Eastern research communities were compiled and presented. Many contributions, inputs, ideas, statements and interventions can be found on MERID’s twitter profile and under the hashtag #braincirculation.


About the event

This is a time of both intense challenges and critical opportunities for the relationship between the European Union and the North African and Middle Eastern region. A series of highly significant socio-political developments – such as the immense refugee flows from war-struck Syria and Iraq, the diverse reactions of European societies to these flows, as well as the signing of the JCPOA with Iran – may prove to be either barriers to inter-cultural understanding, or an opportunity to build trust, bridges and tolerance between the two regions.

The aim of this event, which brings together EMUNI’s 2016 General Assembly and the Horizon-2020 project MERID’s Regional Event, is to address the role of diaspora in intercultural dialogue, trust-building, and development cooperation and to explore the roles of these diaspora in cooperation on science, technology and innovation between the EU and its southern neighbors.

This event will focus, on the one hand, on the constructive use of brain circulation to advance beneficial scientific cooperation and unleash the untapped potential of the Middle Eastern scientific community. On the other hand, by examining the state of the science, technology and innovation on the cross-cutting societal issues of water and renewable energy in the region, the event will provide opportunities to explore fertile avenues for cooperation and identify potential obstacles to that cooperation.

Throughout the event, particular attention will be paid to Iran and Iraq, two relatively new players in the regional discussions, with whom no formal research cooperation has existed so far.

About EMUNI’s General Assembly, brain circulation and migration

Since the end of the cold war, and peaking in the 1990s, mass movements of refugees (largely from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia) have led to the formation of substantial diaspora that have consolidated themselves in destination countries and integrated in various forms of transnational activity. These diasporas, which developed as a consequence of refugee flows of migrants fleeing upheavals in their countries (what is referred to as migration crisis), are continuously reinforcing the transformation of societies worldwide.

Today, new communication technologies, the refugees’ increased education levels and the stronger role of the “old” diaspora has enabled new migrants and refugees arriving in Europe to increase their influence and impact on both the host country and their homeland. At the same time, and all over the world, existing diaspora – created by those who were once refugees – have largely contributed to the development of society in all fields (politics, economy, engineering, science etc.).

Following the end of World War II, large numbers of highly skilled scientists emigrated from Western Europe to the United States. In 1963, the British Royal Society published a report on the migration of scientists from the UK which received much media attention, triggering the Evening Standard newspaper to coin the term ‘brain drain’. Subsequently, the concept of “brain drain” and “brain gain” evolved to describe the relocation of researchers from one country/region (usually less developed, which suffers the drain) to another (more developed, which benefits from the gain). As such, this drain/gain concept has a negative connotation and is considered as a win-lose scenario.

More recently, the term “brain circulation” has been used to describe a dynamic system of human capital flows and exchanges. Countries may accrue benefits to their domestic scientific capacity through diaspora effects, where knowledge, skills and professional networks established by the “expatriate” researchers are shared with their countries of origin.

As EU borders become flooded with refugees and the European public opinions became polarized between friendly welcoming on the one hand and hostile rejection on the other, the need for building trust and inter-cultural understanding between Europe and the Middle East has never been so urgent.

In February 2015, EMUNI organized its annual conference on science diplomacy with the notion of utilizing science as a vehicle for intercultural understanding, inter-religious tolerance and rational discourse. Building on the topic of last year’s conference and its recommendations, EMUNI decided to further advance the cause within the current socio-political context, elaborating on what – in our opinion – are the main contemporary drivers/barriers of this cooperation. The 2015 conference achieved great success, particularly in terms of the policy recommendations, which were welcomed and taken into consideration by the European Commission at the highest levels, including the HR VP Federica Mogherini as well as high-level actors from the Southern Mediterranean such as Princess Sumaya of Jordan.

EMUNI thus wishes to capitalize on today’s socio-political developments in the relationship between Europe – and specifically the European Union – and the North African and Middle East region. The signing of the Iran nuclear deal, the immense flow of refugees from war-struck Syria and Iraq and the divergent response of the European societies to this crisis comprise both a challenge and an opportunity for the future of EU-Middle East cooperation. While appearing to be barriers for inter-cultural understanding, they also represent an opportunity and constitute drivers for building a culture of trust and tolerance between the two regions. We have to bear in mind that the refugees of today are the diasporas of tomorrow.

This conference pursues an activist approach, where our strategic objective is the “constructive use of brain circulation” to the benefit of intercultural dialogue and understanding. We need to bear in mind that diaspora comprise a huge potential that needs to be explored and unleashed. By engaging the Middle East diasporas in Europe in constructive brain circulation with their countries of origin, our conference provides avenues for prosperous scientific cooperation and tapping into the untapped potential of Middle East scientific community, particularly the youth.

The MERID Project: Science diplomacy in practice

The MERID project, starting in January 2015, is an example of science diplomacy in practice. It seeks to boost existing collaboration frameworks between the EU and Middle East countries while creating new channels and forging new links, especially with countries that are newcomers to EU cooperation in Research and Innovation. MERID’s ultimate goal is to employ Research and Innovation as channels for intercultural dialogue, understanding and reconciliation.
MERID involves diverse partners from the European Union Member States, in addition to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine as well as Iran and Iraq. Participation of the latter countries is of particular importance as the MERID project will represent the very first attempt to systematise support to the policy dialogue and engagement of research communities of Iran and Iraq in the EU’s actions and in particular the EU’s programme for Research and Innovation “Horizon 2020”. The MERID partners were carefully selected to embrace relevant stakeholders from diverse backgrounds representing various sectors, from research governance organisations to civil society, including also academia and the business sector.
MERID adopts Science Diplomacy as a tool to deliver long-term impact and structuring effects on cooperation between the EU and the Middle East region. Its focus is primarily on direct cooperation among researchers and policy makers while striving to establish preconditions for fostering joint research projects and initiatives with the EU. This will be achieved by facilitating and creating framework conditions for international cooperation and increasing coordination between policies and programmes.
It is worth mentioning that the MERID project, under coordination of EMUNI, was chosen for funding among ten competing projects focusing on intensifying and encouraging research and innovation cooperation between the EU and the Middle East region along the first call of the EU H2020 programme for Research and Innovation.

Purpose of the MERID event

uilding on the MERID project objectives, the purpose of this event is to tackle the existing framework conditions for research and innovation cooperation between the EU and the Middle East region. In this event, we will address cooperation in science, technology and innovation by focussing on two specific thematic societal challenges: water and renewable energy. The magnitude of these challenges at the regional level and their wider international impact make them excellent fields for study, and sharing knowledge and brain circulation among researchers, experts and policy makers can significantly contribute to addressing these challenges and offering sustainable and long-term solutions. The specificities of this particular event were determined half-way through the MERID project in order to incorporate the input and priorities of countries such as Iraq and Iran that so far have not participated in any EU regional STI activities.

Expected outcomes

  • Generate an overview of the cutting-edge research being carried out in the MERID partner countries in (a) thematic area(s) of high socio-economic relevance.
  • Identify specific topics and areas of mutual interest and potential cooperation.
  • Identify obstacles to cooperation.
  • Commence a policy dialogue on building forward-looking framework conditions for STI cooperation while addressing current challenges.

Expected outputs

  • The conclusions of this regional event will be summarized in a report, shared with all MERID partners and participants, which will in turn provide valuable input for the full MERID project and three concrete MERID deliverables. They will:
  • Help to further develop and complete specific elements in the Policy Dialogue Action Plan.
  • Provide direct input for the Practical Framework for Enhancing STI Enabling Factors.
  • Help to identify opportunities and specific topics of interest for the Bilateral Policy Dialogues.

View the program of the event

H2020 Regional Middle East Info-Day

The “H2020 Regional Middle East Info-Day” was held by Iranian Association for Management of Technology (IRAMOT) in cooperation with MERID project partners on December 15, 2015 in Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran with the presence of some representatives of MERID partners and more than 50 Iranian participants from different organizations and institutions which were involved in STI sectorsin Iran.

Here are some of the organizations that participated in this meeting:

· Vice Presidency for Science and Technology,

· Ministry of Science, Research and Technology,

· Ministry of Petroleum,

· Ministry of Industries, Mines and Trade,

· Ministry of Health and Medical Education-Pasteur Institute of Iran,

· Innovation and Flourishing Foundation,

· Technology Development Foundation,

· Center for Innovation and Technology Cooperation,

· Tehran Urban Planing and Reseach Centre,

· Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology

· Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences,

· The Research Center of New Technologies in Life Science Engineering of Tehran University,

· Agriculture Biotechnology Research of Iran,

· Vice Presidency for Science and Technology- Headquarters of Development of Nanotechnology,

· Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science,

· etc.

At the beginning of the conference each of the participants introduces themselves and their organizations. Then Mr. Ghadiri (Managing Director of IRAMOT) welcomed to all participants and briefly described the event and role of IRAMOT in MERID Project. After that, Dr. Mahdi Elyasi (Deputy of Policy Making and Strategic Evaluation of Vice Presidency for Science and Technology) described the goals and opportunities of taking part in these kinds of international programs for Iranian organizations. Then Mr. Hribar and Mr.Bonas presented the MERID project and opportunities in H2020 program for Iranian STI actors and also let everyone ask their questions in regard to the project.

H2020 Regional Middle East Info-Day

This event was held along with MERID project’s objectives in order to understand the status of Science, Research and Technology in Iran and to explore and enhance collaboration opportunities between Iranian STI actors and EU countries under H 2020 program.

H2020 Regional Middle East Info-Day

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.

 Kick off Meeting

On Friday 13th, 2015, the Kick-off of the MERID (Middle East Research and Innovation Dialogue) took place in Portorož (Slovenia). MERID is a Horizon 2020 project coordinated by Euro Mediterranean University (EMUNI) in Slovenia.

MERID seeks to boost existing collaboration frameworks between the EU and Middle East countries while creating new channels and forging new links, especially with countries that are newcomers to EU cooperation in research and innovation. MERID’s ultimate goal is to employ research and innovation as channels for intercultural dialogue, understanding and reconciliation.

MERID involves diverse partners from the EU Member States, and in addition to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine also Iran and Iraq. Participation of the latter is of particular importance as the MERID project represents the very first attempt to systematise support to the policy dialogue and engagement of research communities of Iran and Iraq in EU’s programmes for Research and Innovation. MERID adopts Science Diplomacy as a tool to deliver long-term impact and structuring effects on cooperation between the EU and the Middle East region. Its focus is primarily on the direct cooperation among researchers and policy makers while striving to establish preconditions for fostering joint research projects and initiatives with the EU.

During the kick-off meeting, the president of EMUNI, Prof. Dr. Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, stressed the importance of the project as the very first attempt to involve researchers from the wider Middle East (with particular focus on Iran and Iraq) and a bridge of science diplomacy among between researchers and research institutions from the Middle East and the EU. As underlined by the project officer at the European Commission, Ms. Tanya Dimitrova, the MERID project represents an important turning point as it will contribute to the creation of a comprehensive strategy in order to further enhance cooperation between the European Union and Middle East in the future.