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FINAL COMMUNIQUE': CEI Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology

Ministers, Deputy Ministers and High Officials from the Member Countries of the Central European Initiative (CEI) and from the European Commission met in Trieste (Italy) on 24 September 2014. The welcome addresses were delivered by the CEI Secretary General, Ambassador Caracciolo di Vietri, by the Director General of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy, Mr. Elmar Pichl, on behalf of the CEI Presidency, and by the President of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia Region, Debora Serracchiani.
  In her introductory statement, the Italian Minister for Education, University and Research, Italy Stefania Giannini, also in her capacity as President of the Council of the EU, illustrated the convinced and bipartisan support provided by the Italian Government over the last decades to the institutions belonging to the CEI Science and Technology Network. These institutions, international either by status or by vocation, are recognised worldwide for their specific multidisciplinary activities in the field of international scientific cooperation. She confirmed a strong support to the future activities of the CEI Network in the perspective of Horizon 2020 and in that of the global EU Strategy for the promotion of Research, Transfer of Technology and Innovation. The Representative of the European Commission, responsible for the International and Inter-institutional Relations of the Joint Research Center (JRC), Ms. Ulla Engelmann, emphasised the broad potential of cooperation between the JRC, the CEI Network and the scientific communities of the CEI Member Countries, particularly in the context of the European macro-regional strategies.
  Dealing with the first agenda item, the Delegates took note, with full satisfaction, of the fact that nine CEI Member Countries were the signatories to the European CERIC Consortium established according to a new EU legislation, and recently formalised with the signature of its Statute by President, Barroso. Strongly promoted by CEI in the last years, CERIC is an innovative model for scientific cooperation, integrating open and advanced research infrastructures distributed in several countries. On the basis of an achievement of such relevance, the Delegates expressed their wish for more CEI Members to join CERIC already in the near future, in the early phase of its operations.
  Concerning the second agenda item, the Secretariat illustrated the main features of the Framework Programme CEI-PRAISE, elaborated on the basis of the broad consensus reached with the mandate expressed at the Ministerial Meeting of last year. This new comprehensive programme has already attracted a partnership of sixty-three institutions of excellence or advanced research groups in all the CEI Member Countries in cooperation with the CEI Science and Technology Network. The Secretariat is now ready to start a modular implementation of this programme, as soon as the financial resources necessary for an initial phase are secured: mainly – but not only – from European funding instruments, and according to a variable geometry based on the respective eligibility of the CEI beneficiary Countries according to their status versus the EU.
  Finally, referring to the third agenda item, the Secretariat provided a report on the CEI promotion activities in the strategic field of eco-friendly renewable energy. Special attention was paid to the promotion of advanced biofuels. CEI has intensified its awareness-building action with governments as well as with economic operators. This action is sustained by CEI’s active participation in three very relevant projects in the framework of FP7, with prime partners from state institutions, academia and industry throughout Europe. In this context, a complex project proposal to replicate in Serbia a large biorefinery for the production of bio-ethanol, utilising the most advanced technology prevailing in Europe, has progressed towards the stage of a feasibility study. A technical assistance grant to finance this study could be obtained from the CEI Trust Fund at EBRD: if implemented, this project could be a valid pilot realisation for most of the CEI Member Countries having a large biomass potential. According to a unanimous mandate by the delegates, the CEI Secretariat will organise, at its earliest convenience, a high-level meeting focused on advanced biofuels, in order to further examine expected developments in this field.
  In conclusion, the participants to the CEI Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology endorsed the work accomplished so far in all the three areas above, and strongly recommended that the Secretariat further pursue its related promotion strategy in Brussels with the competent Directorates of the European Commission. This, in order to secure strong support from the latter to the further activities envisaged and/or already planned. The Delegates agreed upon the fact that the initiatives undertaken by the CEI Secretariat deserved full support from the Governments of the CEI Member Countries. These initiatives are all meant to meet, to the maximum extent possible, the interests and expectations of the scientific and industrial communities of these countries, through an early direct involvement and proactive participation of these communities.
  On 25 September 2014, most of the Delegates visited the institutions of excellence participating in the CEI Science and Technology Network.  
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From left: Italian Minister for Education, Stefania Giannini; Director General, Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy, Elmar Pichl; CEI Secretary-General, Amb. Caracciolo di Vietri, welcoming participants.

from left: President of CERIC, Carlo RizzutoPresident of the Italian Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region, Debora Serracchiani and Italian Minister for Education, Stefania Giannini.

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