Science builds a bridge over troubled waters

June 5, 2003

Brussels, 04 Jun 2003

EU delegates meeting their Moroccan counterparts at the Ministry for Scientific Research in Rabat last week tied the knot on a scientific and technical (S&T) co-operation agreement.

Recent terror attacks in Morocco raise a number of political and economic challenges which on initial inspection have little to do with science and research. But when Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin visited the Moroccan capital last week to present the results of a Commission-supported evaluation of Morocco's research system, he touched on the importance of research in the quest for peace.

"I wish to express my condolences and the strongest condemnation of the terrorist attacks [bomb explosions] in Casablanca," said Mr Busquin. "Now more than ever, the European Union and Morocco should work together."

In light of Morocco's recent tragedy, one area of potential interest for collaboration could be the EU's work in explosive trace analysis (ETA). The Union has actively supported workshops and discussions on ETA methods for identifying and matching bomb blast evidence with traces found in the possession of suspects.

Tangible results of joint research

Addressing the social issues that potentially breed violence, European researchers have been working together for some 20 years with their North African peers. Joint research between the Union and Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt has investigated ways to manage and protect water, biodiversity, agriculture and health. In Morocco alone, some 170 collaborative projects have been undertaken in recent years focusing on public health, information technology, the environment, transport and the economy.

One example of this joint effort has been the development of management systems for cereal irrigation making use of EU satellite data. Co-operation has also been seen in the areas of water purification, coastal ecosystem management, and methods for monitoring breast tumours, to name a few.

Mr Busquin took the opportunity during his meeting with Omar Fassi-Fehri, the Moroccan minister for scientific research, to present the S&T co-operation agreement between the EU and Morroco. Negotiations for the agreement, which started on 14 April this year, have now been completed. To be signed in the coming weeks, the agreement opens the way for universities, companies and research centres to participate in the EU's current Framework Programme for research (FP6).

Overseen by an EU-Moroccan joint committee, the agreement paves the way for a genuine EU-Moroccan partnership in S&T, ensuring reciprocal access to RTD activities between the two parties and a fair division of intellectual property rights generated by joint activities.

"The new agreement will make it possible to structure, organise and broaden our scientific and technical co-operation as Moroccan research continues to develop and integrate within a Euro-Mediterranean area of shared peace and prosperity," said Mr Busquin.

Contact: research@cec.eu.int

More information on this subject:

International Co-operation (INCO)

Tourism in Morocco

International Scientific Co-operation Policy (ISCP) http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/iscp/ welcome_en.html

DG Research
http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/research/i ndex_en.html

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