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Tunisia: Creating Mediterranean synergy in research development

The lack of financial resources, poor co-ordination and lack of comprehensive vision in the area of innovating research in Mediterranean are the main difficulties facing the Mediterranean economy of innovation.

The situation of this economy also known as «New Economy” and issues of research-development in the region were the focus of the 7th Conference of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) which works started on Monday in Tunis.

According to Minister of Development and International Co- operation Mohamed Nouri Jouini, the “worsening of the digital, scientific and technological divide between the two shores of the Mediterranean, the increase in unemployment of young graduates, the pressure on natural resources and the phenomenon of climate change call for collective action,” on the Euro-Mediterranean scale.

The point, he said, is to create more wealth and ensure sustainable growth likely to ensure the progress and well-being of peoples of the region.

Arguing for a new model of co-operation, the minister said that it is in the interest of both the European Union and its neighbouring southern Mediterranean countries to see competitive and knowledge- based economies emerge.
He pointed out that “alongside the continuing efforts in each country, the Union for the Mediterranean is expected to give priority to regional initiatives focusing on knowledge to create a real integrated space of research innovation in the Mediterranean and develop a new model of North-South Competitiveness.

 Philippe de Fontaine, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) admitted, in turn, that the region “needs to seek additional funds” to lead to the emergence of innovating projects.

He underlined that the recommendations of this conference will be proposed to the next Euro-Mediterranean Finance Conference due next May in Brussels and later to the next Summit of Heads of State of the Union for the Mediterranean.
. Mohamed Pournik, expert at the United Nations Development Programme regional centre in Cairo noted the lack of industrial development strategies in most countries around the southern Mediterranean.

He reminded that improving competitiveness of these countries depends on the development of research-development, the increase in public and private investments in this area and the modernisation of education.

 Jelel Ezzine, Director General of International Co-operation at the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research called for a comprehensive, coherent and long-term approach in the area of research and establishing an order of priority with clear choices.

He also recommended easing the movement of students and researchers between the two shores of the Mediterranean and strengthening intellectual property.

 Philippe Froissard, representative of the General Research Division at the European Commission pointed out that the economic crisis has reinforced the political will to develop a Euro- Mediterranean research space, stating that it is for research networks to define scientific and technical priorities in this field.

Officials of structures in charge of research and funding, experts and academics from several European and Mediterranean countries are taking part in this conference held by the Ministry of Development and International Co-operation and the EIB.

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