Another Moroccan diplomat becomes the Union for the Mediterranean’s new Secretary General

Fathallah Sijilmassi is the substitute of Youssef Amrani, who quit after less than one year in office to become Morocco’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister. Sijilmassi was Director General of the Moroccan Agency for Investments, and previously served as the Moroccan Ambassador to Paris and earlier to the European Communities. The Union for the Mediterranean has its permanent Secretariat based in Barcelona. The UfM brings together the 27 European Union Member States and 16 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.


February 14, 2012 09:00 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Moroccan diplomat Fathallah Sijilmassi has been confirmed as the new Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), whose permanent Secretariat is based in Barcelona. Sijilmassi will substitute his fellow citizen Youssef Amrani, who resigned on January 4th to become Morocco’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs. Fathallah Sijilmassi was Morocco’s candidate for the post and was nominated last week in Brussels in a meeting of senior officials. Until now, he was the Director General of the Moroccan Agency for Investments and he holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Grenoble. He previously served as the Moroccan Ambassador to Paris and earlier to the European Communities. Sijilmassi will be the third Secretary General of the UfM in the last 12 months. The international organisation’s first Secretary General, the Jordanian diplomat Ahmad Masa’deh, resigned on January 27th 2011 because the UfM was far from reaching the activity levels agreed on when it was founded in 2008. On July 1st, Youssef Amrani took office, and he resigned seven months later.

There are three main causes for the UfM’s obstacles to carry out its work: the Israel-Palestine conflict that impedes to reach agreements on technical meetings, the lack of commitment of the European Union –which does not prioritise the UfM as a tool to develop projects and policies in North Africa and the Middle East –, and the Arab Spring, which changed many governments and their priorities. The UfM is attempting to resolve the situation by focusing on technical and field projects, however the institution has not reached its desired functioning process yet.

A platform to build projects between both sides of the Mediterranean

The UfM is an international institution that aims to foster cooperation across the Mediterranean Sea. It brings 43 countries together: the 27 Member States of the European Union and all the other countries around the Mediterranean except Libya. The Euro-Mediterranean organisation’s headquarters are based in Barcelona, where the offices of its General Secretariat are located. As agreed in the 2008 Paris Declaration, the UfM has six areas of work: environment (with a special focus on sea pollution); water management; renewable energies (with the Mediterranean solar plan as a star project); collaboration in higher education and research; fostering business exchange; and, sea and land transport infrastructure.