Support to the BLUEMED Initiative: Coordination of marine and maritime research and innovation activities in the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean Sea is going through rapid changes in response to closely interlinked natural and anthropogenic pressures. Climate change influences its physical dynamics and hydrological structure, while nutrient and pollutant loads are flowing from growing urban areas, land and coastal activities. Increasing maritime traffic also leads to safety concerns, potential pollution and the introduction of invasive alien species. Fishing remains unsustainable. The area's marine heritage and its ecosystem services are also at risk. In addition, the geo-political complexity of the area adds further difficulties related to the establishment of favourable framework conditions to support the growth of a blue economy (e.g. in trans-border cooperation on sea-related activities, including maritime spatial planning). Within this frame, coordinated and integrated action needs to be carried out by Member States individually and among Member States together in order to create synergies and complementarities between sectors and countries. This is to provide added value to regional, national and EU investments, remove barriers, avoid duplication and reduce fragmentation, and was put forward in the Vision Statement of the 'Research and Innovation Initiative for Blue Jobs and Growth in the Mediterranean Area – The BLUEMED Initiative'[[https://www.researchitaly.it/uploads/12471/BLUEMED_SRIA_March2015.pdf?v…]]. This initiative and its related Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda will contribute to achieving a healthier, more productive, resilient, better known and valued Mediterranean Sea. In addition, a common marine and maritime R&I strategy needs to be further consolidated in order for it to be possible to achieve solid knowledge-based sustainable and long lasting 'Blue Growth' in the region[[The "Research and Innovation Initiative for Blue Jobs and Growth in the Mediterranean Area (The BLUEMED Initiative)" aims to advance a shared vision of a Mediterranean Sea that is healthy, productive, resilient, understood and valued so as to promote the well-being and prosperity of our citizens and future generations and boost socio economic growth and jobs. It was jointly developed by Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain and was presented by the Italian Presidency during the Competitiveness Council of 04-05 December 2014.]].
This action is expected to contribute to the implementation of 'The BLUEMED Initiative' vision with its related Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and Implementation Plan. This calls for the further alignment and convergence of national research and innovation activities and other relevant initiatives and investments with the different actors and across different sectors in primis between the European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea coasts and the whole EU. In this context, proposals should establish and consolidate an operational network of marine and maritime research funders and other key players. Proposals should support the design and implementation of new transnational joint activities, by using the most suitable and effective collaboration methods and tools. These new activities should focus on the key challenges and other relevant issues identified in the BLUEMED Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) and related Implementation Plan, namely support for technology development, promotion of multidisciplinary research and an innovation-enabling environment, improving human and research infrastructures and capacities, creating a fully integrated observing and forecasting system, promoting citizen awareness and literacy on marine issues, and improving training. This action should build on past and ongoing regional, national and EU projects (e.g. SEASera ERA-NET, PERSEUS COCONET, ESFRI research infrastructures EMBRC, Euro-Argo, ICOS, EMSO etc.) and initiatives. It should integrate research, policy, industry (including aquaculture) and society (including the preservation of local coastal cultures). It should also contribute to pooling different funding streams, at national and EU level, and combine them in an effective way. Lastly, it should create the conditions for extending the initiative to the Southern Mediterranean coastal countries. Support for related events organised under the auspices of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union should be envisaged.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 3 million and a foreseen duration of four years would allow this challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts or durations.
Projects funded under this topic will by default participate in the Pilot on Open Research Data in Horizon 2020, with the option to opt-out, as described in the introduction.
To contribute to the implementation of the BLUEMED Initiative's vision, its related Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda and Implementation Plan, proposals must:
- Make the Mediterranean Sea healthier, more productive, resilient, better known and valued.
- Boost the knowledge base and contribute to creating the right conditions for developing new technologies and services and for improving human and infrastructure capacity in the Mediterranean region.
- Boost the 'blue economy' and contribute to creating more jobs in the Mediterranean region.
- Increase the competitiveness of EU researchers, industry and SMEs within the marine and maritime sectors.
- Improve the coordination and alignment of national marine and maritime research programmes.
- Maximise the impact of national and EU-funded marine and maritime research.
- Contribute to the implementation of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy, its environmental pillar the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Communication 'Blue Growth - opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth'.
- Improve the professional skills and competences of those working and being trained to work within the blue economy.
Delegation Exception Footnote
This activity directly aimed at supporting the development and implementation of evidence base for R&I policies and supporting various groups of stakeholders is excluded from the delegation to REA and will be implemented by the Commission services.