The SSA proposal is a preparatory action to prepare an ERA-NET that concerns the co-operation and co-ordination of monitoring programmes (research and innovation parts) dealing with coastal water quality in shellfish growing areas. Networking will result in harmonization of the activities that guarantee consumer protection within the framework of new EU legislation concerning food safety standards and water, which include shellfish. It represents the foundation of a subsequent ERA-NET designed to improve collaboration between programme managers. The project initiates support actions for common strategic interests at both national and regional level. The project supports the specific programme "Integrating and strengthening the foundations of the European Research Area" and the thematic priority for co-ordination of research activities, which can only be achieved at the European level. The proposal will achieve its objectives through a series of structured measures designed for defining the requirement for subsequent interpretation and dissemination activities. The work programme aims to compile a directory of responsibilities, create a database to combine information on existing programmes, and identify common programme topics, as well as provide a mechanism for the co-ordination and standardization of current coastal monitoring programmes. The terms of reference for a future European-wide network in all the countries with coastal areas involved in shellfish production will also be determined. The planned approach will deal with the problem of fragmentation inherent in current national and regional programmes. There is currently no general infrastructure that can promote transnational exchanges or provide an overview of the results generated from existing programmes. Essentially, an open network would provide a needed pool of information, as well as being a source of co-operation between the research community and the managers responsible for funding.
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