In recent years, the agricultural sector in the Mediterranean has been suffering from severe water shortages and decreasing crop yields. Today, 180 million people in the Mediterranean basin are considered 'water poor'. The lack of clean water and nutritious food has adverse effects on the health and stability of the populations.
The Commission has agreed on a proposal for a Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area, PRIMA, which is set to develop much-needed novel solutions for sustainable water management and food production. The partnership is expected to boost local business and investment opportunities, thereby address unemployment and migration issues in the region. The proposal will now be passed to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU for political discussion and legislative approval.
The Commission's proposal already includes Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. The participation of Germany is currently under negotiation. As the initiative is evolving over time, more participants are expected to follow, both EU and non-EU countries.
Funding for the €400 million partnership will come from the participating countries (currently around €200 million), matched by a €200 million contribution from the EU through its current research framework programme Horizon 2020. The partnership is scheduled to run for 10 years, starting in 2018.
[Photo by Mark Chinnick | Flickr]