Résumé : In the last twelve years the EU has organized a strong effort in order to create strong partnerships with Mediterranean countries the so-called Barcelona process (EU-Med cooperation). In research, cooperation between the EU and the Mediterranean countries was harder to come by mainly because neither research nor innovation (or culture and agriculture for that matter) were not initially included in the Barcelona agreements. But a large array of measures have been devised inside the International cooperation of DG Research to fill in the gap (Pasimeni, Boisard, Arvanitis et Rodríguez, 2006).
Since then, there has been an evolution both in the cooperation (Commission, 2007) and in the way information on innovation and research activities is gathered. Two projects were specifically aimed at analyzing the cooperation (ASBIMED) and the research capabilities (ESTIME) in the Med countries (Arvanitis, 2007; Rodríguez-Clemente et González-Aranda, 2007). This article will revise some of the recent developments that we have been witnessing (and also been actively promoting since all authors were coordinators of the above mentioned projects). It will try to go beyond a general analysis (Rodríguez Clemente et González Aranda, 2007) and will try to grasp the difficulties that were common to all the cooperation efforts in research between the EU and Med partner countries.
A first difficulty that the ESTIME project has been trying to fill in was the lack of professional interest from part of economists and sociologists from Med countries in gathering and analyzing this information. Among other things, collecting systematically the policy measures in favour of research and innovation has been a difficult task. This was also true in Europe on the cooperation activities in ASBIMED project. This information unawareness is partly due to a lack of political priority. A second difficulty –which explains partly the first one— was conceptual: cooperation on S&T was always academic and driven by researchers’ interests and previous contacts. The policies were designed with the aim of promoting larger agreements between countries that go far beyond the actual exchanges of researchers. To a large extent, we believe this effort has failed and that the basic logic has been mainly one of academic exchanges. This is not a default: it was a normal dynamic process that finds its origins in many (historical) causes.
Policies were drawn in such a way that new actors could difficultly be engaged in wider networks. Funding was also much less than what it would take to generate a larger cooperation on innovation. There was a dispersion of effort of the EU (as of the whole Barcelona process, and its later derivation towards a Neighbourhood policy) between diverging interests in Brussels (inside the Commission and among Directorates). A lack of willingness to make things easier was also apparent in many cases (as for example the halting of the network of incubators) that find their explanations in political reasons specific to the region (and in particular the security policies of the EU, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the war with Syria, Israel and Lebanon and general political unstability).
But even when political conditions were not adverse (mainly in North Africa) and when there was a momentum in research (which ESTIME project has measured precisely in terms of publications and joint co-signed articles), there seems to be reasons that do not favour more cooperation. We would like then to go beyond the easy explanations (presented above) and investigate two aspects:
- the unequal nature of the partners (EU and Med countries) and the way to deal with it;
- the lack of permanent cooperation platform.
On both these two items we have abundant material that we would like to present and discuss with policy specialists. Also we build upon not only an academic and rhetoric analysis but on the actual construction of a cooperation instrument (project MIRA) that gathers more than 32 partners in the Med countries (national governments and academic institutions) and in Europe.
The unequal nature of the partners induces a certain type of specific demands from both side of the Mediterranean that have to be clearly stated and not hidden because of some political correctdeness. Capital formation in Med countries is low, investment in research is notably insufficient but real efforts have been made and all these countries know how to formulate a policy on these aspects. We go on by saying that both for technology and research there is a need to politically insert science, to politically give it a locus (something that was clear to the founding members of the Monitoring committee on Euro-Med research cooperation). Also research cooperation has been given the objective of promoting “development”. But research cooperation cannot change the inequality of economic and political power: it can only help promote better science, better practices and more knowledge where knowledge is needed.
Cooperation can help develop research and innovative practices, where these are demanded. Although insufficient effort has been done in revealing this demand for research, we believe that the insufficiency will become history if larger cooperation platforms are adopted and promoted (something that has been experienced by the EU since the establishment of framework programmes). The article delves also on how communication technologies can be used in such large cooperative programmes.
Arvanitis, Rigas (2007). ESTIME : Towards science and technology evaluation in the Mediterranean Countries (Final report). Paris IRD Project n°INCO-CT-2004-510696. ESTIME: Evaluation of Scientific, Technology and Innovation capabilities in MEditerranean countries: 80 pp.
Commission, European (2007). International Scientific Cooperation Target Countries Participation in FP6 (2002-2006): a mid-term satistical analysis. Brussels, Research Directorate, Directorate N, International Scientific Cooperation, Community cooperation activities. 2007: 84 pp.
Pasimeni, Paolo , Anne-Sophie Boisard, Rigas Arvanitis et Rafael Rodríguez (2006). " Towards a Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Space: Some lessons and policy queries ". The Atlanta Conference on Science and Technology Policy 2006: US-EU Policies for Research and Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, May 18-24, 2006.
Rodríguez-Clemente, Rafael et Juan Miguel González-Aranda (2007). ASBIMED Final synthesis report. Sevilla, CSIC. Eu Project ASBIMED www.asbimed.net: 52 pp.
Rodríguez Clemente, Rafael et Juan Miguel González Aranda (2007). " Euro-Mediterranean Scientific Cooperation: Facts, Obstacles and Solutions Using ICTs. Practical Cases ". IEMED 2007 (Barcelona).
<p>The following values have no corresponding Zotero field:<br />Label: Communication<br />CY - Mexico City, September 24-26, 2008 </p>