Norway, Spain and Belgium have been given the EU's go-ahead for a large-scale joint European marine research programme. The cooperative effort will produce new knowledge about environmental conditions, marine resources and commercialisation in the seas and oceans managed by European countries.
On 26 May 2010, the programme Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans was approved as one of six new European Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI).
Countries that wish to participate under the thematically oriented joint programmes agree to enter into binding research cooperation. So far, 10 European coastal countries have said they will take part in research cooperation on European seas and oceans.
The new marine research programme
The new joint programme will comprise three main areas:
- Knowledge about the marine system;
- Knowledge for the sustainable exploitation of marine resources; and
- Knowledge for use in political decision-making.
The initiative will have a broad-based scientific profile and put special focus on issues related to climate change.
Benefits and obligations for Norway
"The new joint research programme will help Norway to maintain and expand its strong position as a leading marine and maritime nation. We have a special responsibility for planning, developing and, not least, co-funding the programme," says Simen Ensby, Director of the EU RTD Department at the Research Council. The Research Council coordinates Norway's participation in the EU's research cooperation initiatives.
"Never before has Norway made such a large investment in international research," explains Mr Ensby, who emphasises that the new marine research programme will lay the foundation for Norwegian research policy in the years ahead.
National funding stimulates international cooperation
Countries that participate in a joint programme provide their own funding for this in cooperation with their existing national research programmes. National allocations are therefore used for international cooperation. This approach is designed to trigger a significant synergy effect.
Mr Ensby believes there are great advantages to this type of scheme: "Common challenges call for more coordination of research efforts that will give Europe a better knowledge base for action. This is the case both for global challenges such a climate change and the energy and food situation and for more Western-oriented health challenges such as cancer and aging."
Joint programmes with Norwegian participation
In addition to the joint marine research programme, five other new research initiatives were approved by the Council of the European Union on 26 May 2010:
- Coordination of knowledge on climate for Europe
- More years, better living ' the potential and challenges of demographic change
- Microbial challenges ' a growing threat to human health
- Urban Europe ' global challenges, local solutions
- Management of water resources in a world undergoing change
Other Joint Programming Initiatives have already been established on Alzheimer's and related diseases; agriculture, food safety and climate change; cultural heritage and global change; and health, food and prevention of diet-related diseases.
Norway has announced its participation in all the research programmes except for the one on Europe's cultural heritage, in which Norway will most likely act as an observer.