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.