MEP sponsors launch of European alliance for research and education in the ocean area

Maria da Graça Carvalho admitted that it has been “difficult” to place the issue of the oceans at the top of the European agenda

Maria da Graça Carvalho, PSD MEP, hosted the session that formally marked the creation of the European Ocean Research and Education Alliance (EOREA), a coalition of European universities and research centers linked to the study of the ocean and the development of technologies associated with it.

In her speech, Maria da Graça Carvalho underlined the importance of this combination of efforts by leading institutions, covering all dimensions of the knowledge triangle: Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, in order to allow Europe to achieve the ambitious goals it has defined for the development of the so-called Blue Economy, with a strong component of protection and enhancement of marine resources.

The MEP – who, as rapporteur for the strategic agenda of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT, part of the Horizon Europe framework program) managed to see approval for the creation of a new Community of Knowledge and Innovation dedicated to water - admitted that if it has proved “difficult” to place the theme of the oceans at the top of the European agenda, especially among countries that do not have important coastal zones.

“Everyone recognizes the importance of the ocean, but when making specific decisions, other things often come up that are considered more important. The issue does not generate consensus on, for example, a Common Agricultural Policy”, he lamented, adding that, even so, awareness is beginning to consolidate that this “is an important issue for all Europeans”.

The EOREA launch event featured a speech by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Scientific Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, who described the ocean as “a treasure” that the European Commission “is committed” to protecting, welcoming the synergies created by EOREA for the “impact” they could have.

EOREA brings together 14 founding institutions. Namely: University of Aix Marseille (France), University of Science and Technology of Norway, Aalto University (Finland), Technical University of Denmark, Free University of Brussels (Belgium), Hellenic Center for Marine Research (Greece), Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), National Research Council of Italy, University of Lisbon – Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal), Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana (Slovenia), National Institute of Marine Research and Development (Romania) and University of Southampton (UK).

Carlos Guedes Soares, professor of Engineering at Instituto Superior Técnico and scientific coordinator at CENTEC, is one of the members of the board of EOREA and was among the speakers at the session, underlining the importance of this new alliance combining the component of studying the ocean with the capacity technology and innovation, something that he considered not to be as present in other existing consortia.