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International Cooperation

The ERA-NET scheme is a highly innovative component of the European Union's (EU) Framework Programmes.

ERA-NET is designed to encourage the creation of close, long-term links between national research programmes with shared goals.

In the short term it will facilitate to exchange views and good practices on regional, national and European research programmes in specific fields.

In the long term, ERA-NETs are expected to lead to more sustained forms of collaboration, including the strategic planning and design of joint research programmes, the reciprocal opening of national research programmes to researchers from other member countries, and the launch of fully transnational programmes jointly funded by more than one country.

The Belgian Science Policy is involved in several marine related ERA-NETs:

1. Towards integrated European marine research strategy and programmes (SEAS-ERA)
SEAS-ERA, as an overarching marine FP7 ERA-NET, is of strategic importance for the European Research Area. Several European strategic fora (e.g. ESFRI) and European Commission’s Communications (e.g. Communication on Joint programming – 2008) have emphasised marine research as a field where major synergistic benefits can be reached by improving the coordination of research and infrastructure investments. SEAS-ERA overall objective is to facilitate the establishment of a stable and durable structure for strengthening marine research across the European Sea Basins. To do so the project brings together 20 major European Marine Research Funding Organisations from 20 countries in the basin regions of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and the Marine Board-ESF.
SEAS-ERA aims to:

  • Contribute to setting up of a European Marine and Maritime Research Agenda and develop a stable European overarching operational structure for its implementation;
  • Enhance cooperation between Member States and avoid fragmentation by fostering synergies at regional and European levels towards achievement of Joint Programming;
  • Propose a plan for a better and sustainable use of Marine Research Infrastructures;
  • Improve science development and its utilization in Europe through human capacity building;
  • Enhance public awareness of marine and maritime scientific and policy issues in Europe.

2. Cooperation and shared strategies for biodiversity research programmes in Europe (BIODIVERSA2)
The loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems are major scientific and societal challenges. Addressing them and providing scientific support to policy requires a coherent research framework, with coordinated strategies and programmes at the regional and international levels, which are the relevant scales for many biodiversity issues. By networking 21 funding agencies from 15 countries, BiodivERsA2 aims to strengthen the ERA on biodiversity. Building on the experience of the ERA-Net BiodivERsA, but with a wider, more balanced network, BiodivERsA2 will promote a strategy for biodiversity research, in partnership with other players in the field, and will organize joint funding to better integrate biodiversity science.
The objectives are to:

  • develop an efficient agenda-setting mechanism for joint activities (including joint calls), taking into account existing research strategies and agendas at international levels along with national and
  • institutional priorities
  • instate a recurrent and visible funding opportunity for transnational biodiversity research projects
    play an active role in the processes and interfaces to inform policy and users
  • prepare the establishment of a sustainable, independent funding platform for biodiversity research.

Finished ERA-net projects:

1. Co-ordination of National and Regional Marine RTD Activities in Europe (MARINERA)
MarinERA is a partnership of the leading Marine RTD Funding Organisations in 13 European Member States.
The MarinERA project main objectives are to:

  • Map European marine RTD programmes and specialised infrastructures, facilitating the creation of an internal market and quantifying the existing European marine research capacity.
  • Facilitate the networking of Marine RTD funding agencies in the European Union, leading to a more cost effective and efficient use of Member State resources including scientific personnel, specialist infrastructures and planned investments.
  • Contribute to the development of a European marine research policy, by identifying future scientific challenges.
  • Provide a basis for the sharing of available resources to address priority issues which are beyond the capacities of individual Member States.
  • Progress the reciprocal opening of Member State Marine RTD Programmes.

2. European Concerted Action to foster prevention and best response to Accidental Marine Pollution (AMPERA)
The AMPERA consortium consists of 10 organisations from 8 European countries. All these organisations have initiated and manage a national strategic research programme on accidental marine pollution or have related programmes in different degrees of development.
AMPERA aims at:

  • Setting priorities in trans-disciplinary accidental marine pollution research.
  • Improved linking of accidental marine contamination research with prevention and mitigation activities, to underpin and emphasise the role of sound knowledge in decision making.
  • Improving co-ordination of national/regional research programmes on accidental marine pollution.
  • Design strategies to overcome barriers that hinder trans-national co-operation aimed at opening up of national/regional programmes.
  • Launching long-term RTD strategies, by identifying synergies and complementarities that will act as nuclei for sustainable co-operations between partners and improve the use of R & D outputs.
  • Dissemination of knowledge at different levels, underscoring the science-public interface and the importance of adopting this approach for society generally.

3. Research for the understanding of European & Overseas biodiversity (BiodivERsA)
Biodiversa is an ERA-net project where 19 European research funding agencies seek best practice as a basis for cooperation in order to strengthen European research.
This particular project aims at setting up efficient trans-national co-operation in the field of biodiversity research funding. Also contributing to the EU Biodiversity Strategy, BiodivERsA will allow the funding agencies to collate existing activities, compare future strategies and recommendations of consultative bodies and systematically explore opportunities for future collaboration.

4. Climate Impact Research Co-ordination for a Larger Europe (CIRCLE)
Climate impact analysis and adaptation response must be informed by a coherent body of research and it is CIRCLE´s prime objective to contribute to such efforts by networking and aligning national research programmes in the 19 CIRCLE partner countries. The Implementation of a European Research Area (ERA) for climate change is CIRCLE’s final goal.

5. Scientific Knowledge for Environmental Protection - Network of Funding Agencies (SKEP)
The SKEP ERA-NET is a partnership of 15 government ministries and agencies, from 11 European countries, responsible for funding environmental research. The project aims to improve the co-ordination of environmental research in Europe.
The objectives include: delivering better value for money for our research; encouraging innovation through more efficient use of research funding; and the improvement of environmental protection capability by setting down foundations for co-ordinating research programmes.

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