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EU governments call for long-term investment in research vessels

Image: CSIRO [CC BY 3.0]

Member state leaders also want a “coherent” approach to European ocean observation

EU member state governments have urged their nations to make long-term investments in research vessels for studying oceans.

The Council of the EU published conclusions on international ocean governance on 13 December, saying there is a “need for research vessels in Europe, and a transnational access mechanism for European researchers on such vessels”. It also called on the bloc’s member states to provide sustained financial support for them.

Earlier this year the EU signed an agreement with seven countries on the Atlantic Ocean, outlining priorities for research and conservation including climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and sustainable fishing.

In its conclusions, the Council said it anticipated an initiative from the European Commission “aiming at achieving a coherent approach to European ocean observation”.

One of the EU’s R&D missions—which channel funding towards political priorities—is to restore marine and freshwater ecosystems.

The Council also highlighted a need for autonomous ocean-observation systems and said it supported the ongoing development of a European ‘digital twin ocean’ model by 2024, for which the Commission has earmarked a €13 million investment.

Last week, 14 universities and research institutions from across Europe came together to launch an initiative for advancing ocean research and education, led by representatives of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Aix Marseille University in France.

The European Ocean Research and Education Alliance will aim to “foster bottom-up and transnational cooperation throughout Europe” through joint research and education programmes, focusing on priorities of both the EU and the United Nations.

Research commissioner Mariya Gabriel said she “would welcome the active contributions of this new alliance” in achieving the EU’s R&D mission in the area.

Update 14/12 – This article was updated with the information about the alliance.