To cope with this double objective, the following conceptual scheme is proposed:
This matrix implementation structure encompasses a series of Thematic Work Packages, following the rationale of the ERA-NET initiative (e.g. Information exchange, strategic analysis, implementation of joint activities, etc.), and covering the key issues to be addressed by the European operational structure to be created. These issues will be developed at a Regional scale with the final goal of building a regionally base d pan-European marine research strategy.
The general objectives of the Thematic Work Packages are to propose common methodologies and define the cooperation framework to be implemented at Regional level. In turn, the Regional Work Packages will contribute to delineate and integrate the national/regional RTD strategies through the previously define d instruments that will finally be given the pan-European dimension by the Thematic WPs.
The project will be implemented in three regions, namely the Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, through dedicated Regional Work Packages. The fourth region, the Baltic Sea, is already co-ordinated by the BONUS initiative, which is developing under the provisions of the Article 169. Therefore, a specific mechanism will be incorporated in the ERA-Net to ensure a close exchange of information and co-operation with BONUS, in order to accomplish the pan-European goals of the overarched initiative.
The work structure of SEAS-ERA will have a bi-directional approach with the thematic elements at the base of its implementation that will facilitate the main tools for development of the regional activities that, in turn, will be overarched at the thematic W Ps for the definition of pan-European strategies. Thus, the work load will be implemented in a 3 step basis:
- Step 1: work framework, general concepts and issues to be developed are fixed at the General level
- Step 2: all the guidelines fixed in the previous step are implemented at the regional level.
- Step 3: all the regional inputs produced in step 2 are put in common, integrated and upgraded at the European level, overarching the different sea basins and providing European added value to the final outputs.
The rationale for choosing this particular implementation structure is substantiated by the special nature of the overarching element that leads this ERA-Net: the major goal of creating an overarching structure to put in contact the regional and the European level raise the need for a structure that allows interaction between them. This interaction is not possible with a lineal structure, as the work has to be developed under two different perspectives in a complementary way. This sort of multi-layer strategy will take in positive feedbacks between the different layers.
The matrix dimension of the presented structure provides this SEAS-ERA initiative with a clear operational framework (set by the pan-European level), a high degree of flexibility for the regional implementation of the guidelines fixed within that frame work and enables the links and interaction between those two dimensions, allowing the overarching of the final outputs with the Europe an perspective.
A Management Team composed of the thematic and regional WP leaders and the coordinator will ensure proper guidance of the whole project and the effectiveness of the coordination among the different WPs. Moreover, we anticipate some degree of combination of meetings being held back-to-back (i.e. wokshops and regional meetings) in order to economise time and travel.