Brussels, 13 May 2005
Two days after signing a joint declaration and six research agreements with France, Italy formalised, on 12 May, a series of technical cooperation agreements on research and development with Spain and Portugal.
Both agreements aim to increase cooperation between universities, research institutes and ministries, boost the mobility of researchers from the various countries, as well as encourage the creation of joint research centres and promote joint participation in the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6).
More specifically, the agreement with France aims to re-launch bilateral scientific cooperation in strategic areas such as marine science and technology, mathematical physics and energy.
'In future, cooperation will increase and develop, in other sectors as well,' stated Italian Research and Education Minister, Letizia Moratti. 'In particular in health research, as well as in agronomy research through specific joint ERA-NET projects for countries around the southern Mediterranean coast, as well as in the space and energy sectors,' she said.
The agreement with Spain and Portugal is innovation-oriented, with two agreements on innovation of the production processes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the prevention of natural disasters. The three countries have also agreed to set up a European COTEC foundation for technological innovation with the aim of advising the EU.
'Today it is no longer enough to follow a national logic on the theme of technological innovation,' stated Lucio Stanca, the Italian Minister for Innovation and Technology. 'In the new dimension of community policy, cooperation becomes a necessary condition for, on the one hand, giving an impulse to participation in European programmes, and on the other, having the critical mass necessary to attract and justify the required investments,' he added.
'I would like to underline in particular the importance of the agreement on innovation relating to production processes within SMEs,' said Ms Moratti. 'In our country, the manufacturing production in traditional fields is equal to per 22 cent of GDP as measured to the market price. We must encourage innovation in industrial production and favour cooperation with countries in a similar situation to add value to research in the process and production fields,' she stated. Spain, Italy and Portugal have also approved two technological platforms on the study and the prevention of natural disasters. Their aim is to increase the critical mass of researchers, concentrate the actions of the three countries and to provide an important convergence point within the EU on these themes, whether from a scientific or technological point of view.
'These various agreements are the concrete proof of a renewed cooperation between countries of the European Union,' Ms Moratti stated. At the same time, they represent a significant step in the construction of the European Research Area,' she concluded.