Barcelona renews the scientific headquarters of the EU in the Mediterranean until 2034

Barcelona extiende la renovación de la sede científica de la UE en el Mediterráneo hasta el año 2034
April 3, 2024
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In 2015, amid the refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people desperately crossing the Mediterranean to escape persecution and conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the European Union proposed the creation of a program to promote talent and economic development in countries in the southern Mediterranean basin. In an unprecedented move, an innovative program of scientific diplomacy, Prima, was launched to finance research and innovation projects related to water and sustainable agriculture, with a crucial requirement: they must be driven, at minimum, by one country from the northern basin and two from the southern basin of the Mediterranean. The headquarters of the program, contested by Rome, was established in Barcelona in 2018. Initially planned for seven years, but the Catalan city has just renewed its status as headquarters until 2034.

In the offices of Prima – located in the Nexus building at the Parc UPC – a team of 15 scientists and administrative staff from various countries, such as Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, France, Malta, Spain, and Italy, work. They draft calls for proposals (endowed with 70 million euros annually), evaluate the projects submitted, select them, and monitor them. Since 2018, when the first call was launched, 230 projects have been funded with 352 million euros, involving 2,310 research groups from universities in 19 Mediterranean countries.

Since its inception, the program has had a dual objective. On one hand, to promote research collaboration among Mediterranean countries and, on the other hand, to innovate and propose solutions to issues as critical as water availability, sustainable agriculture, and food production in a region, the Mediterranean, that faces the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization, and population growth.

“The Mediterranean region is strategic in many ways. The problems arising from climate change impact here first and then in the north; and the problems are similar throughout the basin; for example, sea pollution or overfishing, and a single country cannot solve them,” says Octavi Quintana Trías, director of Prima.

The uniqueness of the program lies precisely in its composition: eleven EU member states (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain) and eight others (Israel, Tunisia, Turkey, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco). Only to complete the Mediterranean arc, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Syria, Libya, and Palestine are missing.

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