The European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco strengthen their scientific and technical cooperation

Brussels, 23 May 2003

On 26 and May, the European Commissioner for Research, Mr Philippe Busquin, and the Moroccan Minister for Scientific Research, Mr Omar Fassi-Fehri, will take part in a National Workshop on Research in Morocco, which will be held in Rabat. The Commissioner will present the results of the evaluation of the Moroccan research system carried out with the Commission's support. Mr Busquin will also have the opportunity to present the scientific and technical cooperation agreement between the EU and Morocco, for which negotiations, which started on 14 April 2003 under a mandate from the Council, have now been completed. The agreement will be signed in the next few weeks. It will make it easier for Moroccan universities, companies and research centres to participate in the EU's 6th Research Framework Programme (2003-2006). It will open up Moroccan activities to participation by European researchers and enable a fair sharing of intellectual property rights generated by joint activities. It will be managed through an EU-Morocco joint committee.

"I wish to express my condolences and the strongest condemnation of the terrorist attacks in Casablanca. Now more than ever, the European Union and Morocco should work together", declared Commissioner Busquin. "European and Moroccan researchers are already collaborating in areas such as health and water, and exchanges of researchers are taking place thanks to European grants. The new agreement will make it possible to structure, organise and broaden our scientific and technical cooperation as Moroccan research continues to develop and integrate within a Euro-Mediterranean area of shared peace and prosperity."

Moroccan research in full development

Moroccan public research is moving ahead with major, far-reaching modernisation. Commissioner Busquin will comment on the findings of the Commission's evaluation carried out in collaboration with the Moroccan authorities which gives an overview of the efforts undertaken and proposes ways of better organising Moroccan research, preventing dispersion and making it more competitive, more adapted to local needs and closer to the market.

In his meetings with Mr Driss Jettou, Prime Minister of Morocco, Mr Khalid Alioua, Minister for Higher Education, and Mr Omar Fassi-Fehri, Minister for Research, Commissioner Busquin will have an opportunity to emphasise the importance of the efforts made to create a research capacity in Morocco which has put this country in third place among science producers in Africa (after South Africa and Egypt).

Partners of long standing

The European Union has for many years been engaged in various forms of scientific and technical cooperation with Morocco. Nearly 170 joint projects have been undertaken to date by European and Moroccan research teams mainly focusing on problems of water management, public health, information technology, the environment, transport and the economy.

From water management to agricultural research

One example has been the development of management systems for cereals irrigation making use of satellite-based information, methods for the treatment of waste water from the olive oil industry, independent solar reactors for water purification, instruments for the management of coastal ecosystems, methods for monitoring breast tumours, processes for studying materials of ancient ceramics and earth glass compounds, and ways of connecting European telecommunication networks to Mediterranean markets.

Mutual benefit and reciprocity

Having regard to what has been achieved to date and given the importance of research and technological development in ensuring their socio-economic progress, the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to strengthen, streamline and extend cooperation in this field.

Based on the principles of mutual benefit and ensuring reciprocal access of researchers to RTD activities, the agreement provides for establishing a genuine EU-Morocco partnership in science and technology.

For more information:

DN: IP/03/737 Date: 23/05/2003

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