Research cooperation around the Mediterranean has been given a boost with the adoption of a declaration 'Towards a Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education and Research Area' during the first Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education and Scientific Research. The meeting, which took place in Cairo, Egypt, was attended by representatives of the research ministries of all 27 EU Member States and the ten Mediterranean partner countries. It was chaired jointly by Annette Schavan and Hany Helal, the German and Egyptian Research Ministers respectively, and EU Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. Until now, research and education have not figured strongly in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, which was launched almost twelve years ago. This now looks set to change, as the declaration states that 'higher education, research and innovation should be defined as a priority sector within the Euromed partnership'. Speaking at the event, Janez Potocnik stated his belief that greater research cooperation in the region would help both Europe and its neighbours face the challenges and opportunities of globalisation. 'Reinforcing our partnership will help us disseminate, produce and share useful knowledge and address common challenges - such as in public health, water management, desertification, and renewable energies,' he said. 'It will also underpin sustainable development in a region that is critical for peace, security and stability in Europe - and beyond.' In the Cairo Declaration, the Ministers pledge to integrate the Mediterranean partner countries into the European Research Area (ERA) by promoting links between centres of excellence in the Euromed region, and boosting the participation of these countries in the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Researcher mobility is addressed in the declaration, with Ministers calling for a simplification of visa procedures for researchers and students moving between Euromed countries. The declaration also calls for work to promote innovation and knowledge sharing in the region, for example by setting up national and regional innovation funds and developing capacity building in research and development (R&D) and innovation management. Implementation of the conference declaration will be overseen by the Monitoring Committee for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation in Research and Technological Development (RTD), which will report back to the Euromed Committee in 2008. A second Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Higher Education and Scientific Research will be held in 2009 to assess the achievements made and make plans for further cooperation. Also at the event, the EU and Egypt signed a new grant financing agreement worth €11 million to support Egypt's research, development and innovation initiatives. The four-year programme is designed to facilitate Egypt's participation in the ERA by stimulating research linkages between scientists in the EU and Egypt. In addition, Germany and Egypt agreed on a programme to provide funds for young Egyptian researchers to spend three to six months working in Germany. The agreement was reached in the framework of the German-Egyptian Year of Science and Technology.