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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
Nieuwsartikel29 maart 2022Directoraat-generaal Nabuurschapsbeleid en Uitbreidingsonderhandelingen

The Republic of Tunisia joins Horizon Europe, the world’s largest research and innovation programme

Horizon 2020

Today, the Commission and Tunisia have signed the agreement granting the Republic of Tunisia the association status to Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme (2021-2027).

Tunisian researchers, innovators and research entities can now participate in the €95.5 billion programme, under the same conditions as entities from the EU Member States. The Horizon Europe Association Agreement will start producing legal effect after its entry into force that is once Tunisia completes its ratification process and an exchange of diplomatic notes takes place between the Commission and the Tunisian authorities.

The signature ceremony took place in a hybrid format in Brussels and in Tunis, in the presence of Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and Deputy Director-General Signe Ratso, Chief Negotiator for HE Association, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission. On behalf of Tunisia, Moncef Boukthir, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Tunisia, signed the Association Agreement.

Commissioner Gabriel said:

I welcome Tunisia to our Horizon Europe programme. Tunisia’s performance in Horizon 2020 has been remarkable by constantly increasing its participation and supporting the acceleration of national research and innovation reforms. I invite researchers and innovators to discover Horizon Europe’s funding opportunities to bring their ideas to life.

The association to Horizon Europe supports the ’Global Approach to Research and Innovation’ and reconfirms Europe's commitment to a level of global openness needed to drive excellence, pool resources for faster scientific progress and develop vibrant innovation ecosystems in a set of common priorities, such as the twin green and digital transition.

Background  

Since 2016, the Republic of Tunisia has been associated to Horizon 2020, the previous EU research and innovation programme (2014-2020). It was the only African and the only Arab country associated to Horizon 2020.

In Horizon 2020, Tunisian entities have participated 97 times to 75 signed grants of collaborative, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA), European Research Council (ERC) and Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) Instrument actions, receiving €13.13 million of direct EU contribution. Tunisia’s top Horizon 2020 performance is in Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, in food security, marine and maritime research and bioeconomy, climate actions, environment and resource efficiency.

Success stories from Tunisia in research and innovation under Horizon 2020 include the GEO-CRADLE project, using earth observation data to tackle major challenges in climate change, energy and food security, the MADFORWATER project aimed at improving water efficiency with new technologies to tackle the looming water crisis of the Mediterranean African Countries, as well as the MIDES project, which developed a new energy efficient way of producing drinking water.

Tunisia is active in several transnational cooperation mechanisms. This includes the COST Programme, EUREKA, the Partnership for R&I in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) and the BlueMed initiative.

Moreover, Tunisia is an active participant to the Union for the Mediterranean Platform on R&I and contributed to the development of the 2021 Roadmaps on Health, Renewable Energies and Climate Change.

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