JPI Oceans management board discusses the use of structural funds for marine research infrastructure
On 20 March the JPI Oceans Management Board consisting of representatives of the 17 participating countries convened in Copenhagen. A constructive meeting was held on which a first strategic discussion took place on the use of structural funds for marine research infrastructures.
The discussion on the use of structural funds started with an intervention of Mr. Waddah Saab who represented the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation at the Management Board. In his presentation, W.Saab highlighted the increased use of structural funds for research, development and innovation: from 3% in the 1989 - 1993 period to 25 % in the 2007-2013 period.
W. Saab recalled as well that the budget for the cohesion policy - €336 Billion (which includes structural funds) is more than three times as high as the Horizon 2020 budget (80 Billion) for the period of 2014-2020. A study commissioned by the European Commission showed that structural funds have been used in many countries to finance marine research infrastructures. During the presentation it became clear that there are still unused opportunities to finance such infrastructures but there are obstacles as well. In particular, it was noted that it is important to bear in mind that cohesion policy is an EU policy in its own right, pursuing the overall objective of reducing economic disparities between EU regions. This means that research infrastructures applying for structural funds must make a case for their socio-economic impact at regional level first. When these research infrastructures are of European scale (like ESFRI distributed infrastructures), there is a need to bridge the rationale of the research policy (scientific excellence and European dimension) with the cohesion policy rationale (socio-economic development at regional level).
The intervention of Mr. Saab was followed by a presentation on the maritime valley project, a Lithuanian initiative financed partly by structural funds. Dr. Brigita Serafinaviciute, Scientific Secretary of the Research Council of Lithuania explained the use of structural funds and the specific goals and objectives of the maritime valley project. To conclude the Management Board decided to establish a working group which will further discuss and look into the use of structural funds for marine research infrastructure.
Apart from the structural funds, the management board further discussed the JPI Oceans governance structure, the election of the Strategic Advisory Board and the links with the new framework programme Horizon 2020.
More information on the use of structural funds for Research and Innovation investments: The European Commission’s Smart Specialisation Platform
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