Brussels, 25 January 2008
Today, Montenegro will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Commission which will allow it full access to the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) which runs from 2007 to 2013. This "associated status" will allow Montenegro to participate in all calls for proposals and compete on an equal footing with the EU Member States for research co-operation and support actions funded by FP7, as of 1 January 2008. This agreement can therefore be seen as an important step in the process of applying to join the EU. It will allow Montenegrin scientists, universities and companies to create links with their counterparts across Europe and build up their scientific expertise, including in scientific fields crucial to implementing the body of EU legislation. With Montenegro, all countries of the Western Balkans except Bosnia and Herzegovina are now associated to the European Union research effort.
“Today's decision is a very positive and important one, not only for the scientific future of Montenegro, but also for its political future. Full participation in the research framework programme brings Montenegro into the European Research Area and I believe this is important in helping Montenegro prepare itself for membership of the EU,” said Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potočnik. “In addition to forging links with scientists and companies across Europe, Montenegro will have new opportunities to work with its regional partners in addressing common challenges. "
Commissioner Potočnik will sign the Memorandum on behalf of the European Commission at a ceremony held in Brussels today, with the Montenegrin Ambassador to the EU, Slavica Milačić, representing Montenegro.
The 7th Research Framework Programme supports scientific research in the EU and the broader European Research Area with a budget of almost 55 billion Euros over a time span of 7 years (2007-2013). It allows for funding of collaborative research in strategic areas such as health; energy; information technologies, nanotechnology or transport. FP7 also stimulates the mobility of researchers through Marie-Curie grants and has special programmes to support capacity building such as research infrastructure, research for small and medium sized enterprises and Science in Society. The programme has provision for special calls for the Western Balkan Countries and international cooperation actions aiming at improving the dialogue among regional partners.
Association to FP7 means that these countries compete in FP7 on the same basis as EU Member States. It opens up research opportunities for the European scientific community. Traditionally the Balkan countries have a solid scientific base, and deeper research cooperation with the EU will allow for a greater flow of ideas, people and transfer of technology.
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