The EU Ministers for Research will be meeting in Malta today and tomorrow to discuss reducing the innovation gap between Member States and adopt a declaration that calls for strengthening research and innovation cooperation in Mediterranean countries.
The Deputy Secretary General for Higher Education and Research Indrek Reimand noted that a situation where a large share of EU funding for research and innovation is concentrated in certain regions is not acceptable. “The innovation gap would be reduced by making the rules on financing simpler and more transparent, and supporting the development of research and innovation across Europe,” said Reimand. “During Estonia's presidency, the main topic of EU research policy will be interim evaluation of the EU research and innovation framework programme Horizon 2020 which should be followed by a discussion as to how the programme could be made simpler, more attractive and better accessible for the participants.”
One of the main priorities of Malta, the current EU presidency, is to strengthen cooperation in the Mediterranean area. Negotiations for introducing the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) with support from the EU budget are about to reach a fruitful outcome. The partnership programme will help improve the health and living standard of the Mediterranean population, develop innovative solutions to protect food and water resources, and promote economic growth and stability. The ten-year programme is to be launched in 2018. The adoption of PRIMA legislation and entering into intergovernmental agreements for participating in the programme will fall within the time frame of Estonia’s presidency.
On 1 July 2017, Malta will pass the presidency of the EU Council to Estonia who will steer the meetings and coordinate the policies of Member States until the end of the year. During that period, the Ministry of Education and Research will organise 22 different events, incl. the meeting of Ministers for Research to be held in Tallinn, and four international conferences.