Brussels, 28 May 2003
Proposal for a
on the signing of the Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the Tunisian Republic
1. The Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an association between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Tunisian Republic, of the other part1, entered into force on 1 March 1998. Article 47 of this Agreement identifies scientific and technological cooperation as an area of particular interest and potential, and provides, amongst other things, for the establishment of permanent links between the parties' scientific communities.
2. In the context of the implementation of an ambitious international dimension for the European Research Area (see Commission communication COM(2001) 346 final of 25 June 2001, "The International Dimension of the European Research Area"), the Commission underlined the need to strengthen relations with the Mediterranean partner countries in the fields of science, technology and innovation in order to promote the socio-economic progress of the whole Euro-Mediterranean area.
3. During his visit to Commissioner Busquin on 3 June 2002, Tunisia's Minister for Scientific Research and Technology, Mr Abdelkarim Zbidi2, asked for an Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation to be negotiated with the Community in order to supplement and strengthen cooperation undertaken to date.
4. Exploratory meetings were held with the Tunisian authorities responsible for science and technology policy and with representatives of the country's scientific community with a view to assessing Tunisia's scientific potential and stepping up its participation in research of mutual interest with the European Community. These contacts confirmed that greater cooperation on science and technology with Tunisia would be in the mutual interest of both parties. In conclusion, it would be fully in the interest of the Community to respond positively to Tunisia's request and an Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation would be the appropriate instrument for supplementing current cooperation and expanding it at international and regional level.
5. Consequently, on 14 November 2002 DG RTD initiated a procedure aimed at obtaining a negotiating mandate for this Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation. On 12 March 2003, the Commission sent to the Council a recommendation for the adoption of a negotiating mandate and on 14 April 2003 the Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to negotiate an Agreement on scientific and technological cooperation with the Tunisian Republic.
6. The Agreement was negotiated in accordance with the directives attached to the Council Decision of 14 April 2003. The negotiations culminated in the draft Agreement and annexes attached hereto, which were initialled on 24 April 2003 by the authorised representatives of the two parties.
Brussels, 26.5.2003 COM(2003) 303 final 2003/0106 (ACC)