25 Years On: What Next for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation?

Written by | Saturday, December 5th, 2020
@Eubulletin

The 5th Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Forum was held last week (27 November) virtually under the title ‘25years: Building a Stronger Mediterranean’. This venue brought together the 42 member states of the UfM at its fifth regional forum of foreign ministers – which was a special one as it happened 25 years after the launch of the Barcelona Process. The Regional Forum provided the opportunity to reaffirm the members‘ commitment to the principles of the Barcelona Process and reiterate their engagement in Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and cooperation, as well as to highlight where the UfM needs to redouble its efforts in order to meet current and future challenges.
„Every country around the Mediterranean is confronted with the threat of terrorism, extremism and cultures of hate that seeks to divide us,“ says an opinion written on this occasion jointly by Josep Borrell, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign affairs minister, and Nasser Kamel, secretary-general of the UfM. „We stand together against terrorism and all acts feeding hatred. … We also need to manage migration and refugees issues in a humane and sustainable way, both for those on the move and for their host communities, observing the principle of shared responsibility.“ More in particular, the three leaders appeal on UfM member states to „redouble [their] efforts and find political solutions to the many crises that have plagued our region for too long: in Syria, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East that have caused far too much suffering.
Borrell, Safadi and Kamel also reassert the top priorities for the grouping, which include „cooperation on action on climate change and the environment, sustainable development, the ‘Blue’ economy, digital transformation and civil protection.“ In that context they point to the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change (MedECC) and the first-ever region-wide report on the impact of climate change in the Mediterranean, both of which were supported by the UfM. „It is equipping policymakers to make science-based decisions whilst helping to reduce the North-South data gap. The UfM is running the Med4Jobs programme, benefiting hundreds of thousands of young people and hundreds of SMEs.“ They also highlight the north-south divide, namely the economic integration between North and South of the Mediterranean that is still lagging and the gap in living standards is not reducing. „Many other indicators in the region have not improved and the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating social fragmentation and socio-economic inequality. This is a reason to re-double our efforts, focusing on getting concrete results.“

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