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A new programme to build a better Mediterranean region

Interreg NEXT MED

The NEXT Mediterranean Sea Basin (Interreg NEXT MED) programme has taken its first steps, presenting itself as one of the most prominent cooperation initiatives financed by the European Union to boost transnational collaboration in the Mediterranean area. Its first call for proposals, which closes on 30 April, marks the start of an ambitious project. With a budget of 103 million euros, NEXT MED seeks to fund projects that will transform the Mediterranean into a more competitive, greener, more inclusive, and better governed region. In turn, these four priorities are broken down into nine objectives.

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Geographical coverage of Interreg NEXT MED

The geographical coverage of the call extends to more than 100 territories in seven EU and eight partner countries: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey.

The nine objectives

The NEXT MED programme has set nine key objectives that reflect its priorities and aspirations for the Mediterranean region.

A more competitive region

  • Research and innovation, along with the uptake of advanced technologies, will receive an allocation of 13.5 million euros.
  • 20.2 million euros will be allocated to boost sustainable growth and competitiveness of SMEs, as well as job creation in SMEs.

A greener region

  • 12.2 million euros will be invested in energy efficiency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A further 12.2 million euros will be devoted to climate change adaptation, disaster risk prevention, and resilience considering ecosystem-based approaches.
  • Access to and sustainable management of water will receive a further 12.2 million euros.
  • The transition to a circular and resource-efficient economy will also receive 12.2 million euros.

A more inclusive region

  • 16.8 million euros will be used to ensure equal access to quality education services and promote lifelong learning through developing accessible infrastructure, including by fostering resilience for distance and on-line education and training.
  • A further 7.9 million euros will be used to ensure equal access to health care and fostering resilience of health systems, including primary care, and promoting the transition from institutional to family- and community-based care.

A better governed region

  • 9 million euros will be allocated to promote models of local governance and cooperation between citizens, civil society, and institutions on issues of common interest.

The three project categories

The first call of the programme includes three types of projects, each with its own characteristics.

Thematic projects

  • They represent most of the call and can address priorities 1, 2 and 3.
  • They must be demonstration and pilot projects that develop innovative solutions to the specific challenges of each priority.

Youth-oriented projects

  • Allow the active participation of young people in the design and implementation of projects.
  • They can only be submitted under priorities 1, 2 and 3, and are allocated up to 20% of the budget.

Governance projects

  • Exclusively related to priority 4, they aim to improve the capacities of regional and local authorities and other relevant actors.

Context and role of Zabala Innovation

NEXT MED emerges as a continuation of the ENPI (2007-2013) and ENI (2014-2020) cross-border cooperation programmes in the Mediterranean basin. With a focus on smart, sustainable, and equitable development, it seeks to strengthen cooperation and multilevel governance in the region. The total EU contribution to NEXT MED amounts to 253 million euros.

NEXT MED represents an unprecedented opportunity to transform the Mediterranean region into a more prosperous, sustainable and cohesive place,” says Aurora García, leader of Regions and Cities Knowledge Area at Zabala Innovation. “With its ambitious objectives and broad scope, it is emerging as a key catalyst for the future development of the Mediterranean basin,” she adds. García concludes: “Zabala Innovation, with its experience in the management of transnational cooperation projects funded under the same framework of the Interreg 2021-2027 Programme, offers its clients its extensive network of contacts in the Mediterranean area and the keys to ensure the success of their projects”.