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PRIMA : a dual celebration in Brussels for a lasting impact on the Mediterranean region’s research and innovation landscape

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Brussels, January 25, 2024, the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), the driving force behind collaborative research and innovation in the Mediterranean, has geared up for an event on January 25-26, 2024, in Brussels. This occasion marks a double celebration as we celebrated the successful negotiations for the extension of PRIMA for the 2025-2027 period within the Horizon Europe framework programme while launching the ambitious FUTURE4PRIMA project, setting the stage for a dynamic future.

Photo: Iris Haidau, for PRIMA

A glimpse into PRIMA’s journey:
Established with the goal of addressing significant challenges in the Mediterranean region, PRIMA was initiated following a European Commission proposal in October 2016. Since then, PRIMA has functioned as a public-public partnership, leveraging the knowledge and financial resources of the EU and Participating States to enhance research capabilities and devise innovative solutions. Specifically focused on creating sustainable water and food systems in the Mediterranean area, PRIMA boasts a membership of 20 participating states.

This includes 12 EU member states (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain) and 3 countries associated with Horizon 2020 (Israel, Tunisia, and Turkey), as well as 5 third countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco), who joined through bilateral international agreements.

Since its inception in 2018, PRIMA has become a vital instrument for scientific cooperation between the EU, North Africa, and the Middle East, addressing challenges such as climate resilience and sustainability in water and food systems. Originally planned to conclude within the Horizon 2020 framework, PRIMA’s operations have garnered significant enthusiasm from participating states for an extension beyond 2024. A provisional agreement has been successfully brokered between the Council and the Parliament, enabling the extension of the EU’s commitment to PRIMA under Horizon Europe for the years 2025-2027. This extension ensures continuity in the partnership’s objectives and conforms to the overarching framework of Horizon Europe.

Looking ahead, Participating States are preparing for a renewed partnership, with potential thematic and geographical extensions under the next framework program. The FUTURE4PRIMA project, involving several states, aims to lay out steps for a four-year Horizon Europe project, setting the foundation for a co-created and co-implemented renewed partnership in the next EU Framework Program.

Celebrating achievements and paving the way forward: the political event

On January 25th, PRIMA hosted a special event celebrating its remarkable achievements and the successful interinstitutional negotiations for its extension within Horizon Europe.

The inaugural session commenced with Professor Angelo Riccaboni, co-chair of the PRIMA Foundation providing insights into PRIMA’s goals and vision. Ms. Elena Domínguez Cañas (CSIC Brussels) welcomed the participants to the hosting venue: the CSIC office in Brussels. She delved into the distinctive features and significance of PRIMA, emphasizing the importance of international research collaboration. Mr. Giuseppe Provenzano (Union for the Mediterranean) shed light on the organization’s cooperative role. The welcoming remarks were succeeded by speakers who celebrated PRIMA’s accomplishments in Mediterranean research and innovation, highlighting the critical extension negotiations within Horizon Europe and affirming a dedication to collaborative research in the region.

Photo: Iris Haidau, for PRIMA

Ms. Maria Cristina Russo (European Commission) underlined the EC’s commitment to fostering international research partnerships. She stated: “the work we’ve done to make PRIMA a reality couldn’t have been possible without the participation of all the countries. Highlighting the importance of PRIMA in terms of science diplomacy shows that through science, we can overcome obstacles.”

She then handed the floor to theMembers of the European Parliament, Mr. Paolo Borchia and Mr. Jordi Sole Ferrando, who stressed the pivotal role of research in the European Parliament. Mr. Jordi Sole Ferrando recalled that “the cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean is something we have to celebrate. We need more initiatives like this”, whileM Mr. Paolo Borchia highlighted that “without the commitment of everyone [in the Parliament], we couldn’t have achieved this.

Following,Mr. David Gonzalez Martínez (Spanish Presidency, Council of the EU) articulated Spain’s unwavering dedication to research during its presidency. Ms. Alison Morton (Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU) shared Belgium’s perspective on research collaboration.

We were pleased to have ambassadors and representatives from Member States joining us at the event, including Permanent Representatives and delegates from PRIMA Participating States:

His Excellency Mr. Badr Abdelatty (Egyptian Ambassador Mission to the EU) highlighted Egypt’s focus on international partnerships, while Her Excellency Ms. Saja Majali (Ambassador of Jordan in Brussels) provided insights into Jordan’s contributions to Mediterranean research. She specially recalled that: “it is important to celebrate but also to prepare for the future”.

HE Mr. Badr Abdelatty (Egyptian Ambassador Mission to the EU). Photo: Iris Haidau, for PRIMA

PRIMA’s co Chair, Professor Mohamed El Shinawi brought the session to a close with optimism for future research in the Mediterranean, acknowledging the collective commitment to progress in the region: “a pillar of the success of PRIMA is that we share common goals, values, and respect”. He concluded: “we cannot work as isolated islands; we have to build bridges. Hence, it is important to have you all here today”.

(See all the pictures from the political session:

FUTURE4PRIMA: a forward-thinking initiative:

The spotlight, however, is not just on the past but also on the promising future with the introduction of the FUTURE4PRIMA project. This EU-funded project, led by PRIMA, seeks not only to strengthen existing collaborations but also to extend the program’s reach to new territories bordering the Mediterranean. FUTURE4PRIMA aligns seamlessly with the European Green Deal and the UN Agenda 2030, positioning PRIMA as a key player on the global stage.

The Kick-off Meeting: a collaborative journey begins:

On January 25th, FUTURE4PRIMA embarked on a collaborative journey with 21 partners across the Mediterranean. From R&I Ministries to universities and research organizations, this diverse coalition is dedicated to sustainable agri-food systems and water management, setting the stage for transformative change.

Photo: Iris Haidau, for PRIMA

FUTURE4PRIMA in a nutshell:

  • Starting date: January 2024
  • End date: December 2027
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Budget: €2,176,793.75 (funding rate 100%)

Countries involved: Spain, Italy, Turkey, Jordan, Malta, Israel, Egypt, Germany, Morocco, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Tunisia, Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France

For media inquiries or further information, please contact Lucille Guiheneuf: [email protected]

See all the pictures from the Kick of meeting: