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Opening up the European research area to the Mediterranean countries

Final Report Summary - EURO-MEDANET2 (Opening up the European Research Area to the Mediterranean Countries)

The EURO-MEDANET and the EURO-MEDANET2 projects had been clustered since their beginning. The decision for this clustering was due to several important factors:
- The two projects had the same objectives, targets, tasks, deliverables and milestones and their starting dates had only a difference of one month.
- EURO-MEDANET was the first of the two projects to be written and submitted. Its three Mediterranean partners were from Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. EURO-MEDANET2 had been written and submitted after the request of four more Mediterranean partners (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Algeria) to participate in the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and networking.
- The two consortia strongly believed that this clustering had added and was still adding considerable added value to all participants thanks to the networking possibilities between the Information points (InPs) and, later on, the scientific communities of seven countries instead of three (EURO-MEDANET) or four (EURO-MEDANET2).
- The clustering of the two projects had allowed all partners to attend three training seminars instead of two, as initially foreseen. According to the conclusions of both consortia, this series of seminars had offered them a wide range of information and expertise necessary for the functioning of the InPs. It had also allowed them to participate actively in the simulation exercise of proposal writing and submission, which would not have been possible with the realisation of only two training seminars with separate consortia.

The main objective of EURO-MEDANET2 was to help establish an independent and self-sustaining InP network in the participating Mediterranean target countries. It also aimed to address the needs of Mediterranean productive sectors by fostering a Sixth Framework Programme (FP6)-assimilation 'culture' among its potential clientele (e.g. industrial, agricultural, environmental, information society, private and public service entities).

Whereas the long-term objectives of the project were the opening of the European Research Area (ERA) to the Mediterranean countries and, consequently, the contribution to closer and more beneficial relations in Research and development (R&D) between the European Union (EU) and the Mediterranean countries, its short-term objectives were:
a) the creation of a stable and effective network of InPs. The InPs would have a structure similar to that of the National contact points (NCPs) for FP6 that already existed in the European Member States. Their main mission would be to serve as informative nodes between the European Commission (EC) and the Mediterranean countries regarding the possibilities of cooperation in R&D, participation in the FPs of the EC, partner search, etc. The main achievement of this objective was the sustainability of the InPs beyond the project's life cycle, which was ensured by the fact that all partners were governmental organisations.
b) the training of the staff of these InPs in order to efficiently tackle issues related to the above fields.

Both these two objectives had been achieved to a large extent during the first year of the project life cycle. In the kick-off event of the project, which took place in Athens on 10-11 May 2005, the partners discussed essential issues concerning the implementation of the InPs: their status, ideal location, budget, personnel, and equipment. A consensus was reached and a detailed development plan was subsequently elaborated, after the event, containing all the necessary guidelines for the establishment and implementation of the InPs. By consulting and adhering to this development plan all four Mediterranean InPs were successfully established in the first semester of the project under the auspices of the organisation participating as the partner in the project. Their staff members had been assigned from the beginning (so that they might benefit from the training seminars later on). The InP locations had been determined, their status clarified and the necessary equipment ordered.

The core of each InP was its staff. However, other important aspects included the identification of the target group of each InP, the creation of its web site, the design of information material, the execution of awareness campaigns and the organisation of a kick-off event for the official launching of the InP, in order to introduce it to the scientific community of the country.