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The President of the European Parliament asks the EU for “more investment” in the Union for the Mediterranean

Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, while in Barcelona, has asked for a greater involvement by the European Union and its members in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which has its headquarters in the Catalan Capital. This institution was supposed to be essential in the EU’s foreign relations, building a Euro-Mediterranean cooperation space. However, the reality is that since it was founded in 2008 almost no projects have been developed and very few funds have been allocated. The Israel-Palestine conflict and the institutional instability of the Arab Spring are one cause of the paralysis of the UfM, but the lack of engagement of the European Union is also a contributing factor.

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15 March 2013 11:00 PM

by

ACN / Maria Fernández Noguera

Barcelona (ACN).- On Friday while in Barcelona, Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament, asked for  \u201Cmore investment\u201D and a greater involvement by the European Union and its member states in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which has its headquarters in the Catalan Capital. This institution was supposed to be essential in the EU\u2019s foreign relations, building a Euro-Mediterranean cooperation space. However, the reality is that since it was founded in 2008 almost no projects have been developed and very few funds have been allocated. In fact, Schulz recognised that the UfM is \u201Cinfra-developed\u201D, although he explained that national parliaments are trying to use maximum pressure for the institution to start its actions for real. The Israel-Palestine conflict and the institutional instability of the Arab Spring are one cause for the UfM\u2019s paralysis, but the lack of engagement of the European Union is also a contributing factor. The first three specific projects of the UfM will be launched as from next April, announced the organisation\u2019s Secretary General, Fathallah Sijilmassi. The first project will be a workshop to promote entrepreneurship among women; the second one will focus on logistics in the Mediterranean and will be launched in May; and, the third project will try to improve water management and will be launched in June.


The projects of the Union for the Mediterranean are not affected by the reduction in the European Union budget for the 2014-2020 period because \u201Cunfortunately\u201D a budget line for the UfM has not been included yet, explained Schulz. Discussions among the EU institutions and the 27 Member State governments are still in the big picture and they have not yet discussed investment in Mediterranean countries.

However, Schulz insisted that the parliaments of the 43 countries forming part of the UfM \u201Care pressuring\u201D the EU institutions and the Member State government to allocate funds to Euro-Mediterranean projects. In this vein, between the 6th and the 7th of April, the chairmen of the 43 national parliaments will meet in Marseille with the aim of giving the UfM a push forward. In the Marseille conference, which is carried out with the support of the Anna Lindh Foundation, attendees will work \u201Cto approve a join declaration by all the parliament chairmen\u201D, explained Schulz. The President of the European Parliament \u2013 who is currently holding the Chair of the UfM\u2019s Parliamentary Assembly \u2013 will kick off the meeting and the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, will close it. After this conference, between the 11th and 12th of April, the next plenary session of the UfM\u2019s parliamentary assembly will be held in Brussels.

Women, water and logistics are the focus of the UfM\u2019s first three specific projects

The first specific projects of the Union for the Mediterranean will arrive three years after the institution\u2019s General Secretariat opened its doors of its headquarters, located in Barcelona\u2019s Pedralbes Palace. They are coming four and a half years after Nicolas Sarkozy, who was back then the French President, officially announced the project was being boosted and launched again.

As Sijilmassi has announced, in April a workshop to foster entrepreneurship among young women will be organised. The \u20AC650,000 programme for the creation of new jobs is targeting 450 unemployed young women with scarce economic resources in Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine. Sijilmassi explained that, in relation to this project, the UfM is in contact with several universities in order to engage them in \u201Ccreating companies and therefore jobs\u201D. It is projected that the programme will have an impact on 10,000 people.

In May, a project to improve water management capacities will be launched, announced the UfM\u2019s Secretary General. This project will run until 2015, with a budget ranging from \u20AC1.2 to \u20AC2.3 million and Lebanon, Albania, Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan and Morocco will participate.

In addition, a third project will be launched in June: the Logismed programme. This initiative has a budget of 6.5 million and it will run from 2013 to 2018. It includes the participation of Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. Logismed has the objective of fostering \u201Clogistic platforms to strengthen the competitiveness of Mediterranean countries, within the regional and world economy\u201D, stated Sijilmassi. 

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  • Representatives from the UfM's Parliamentary Assembly met in Barcelona on Friday (by M. Fernández Noguera)

  • Fathallah Sijilmassi (left) and Martin Schulz (right) at Barcelona's meeting (by M. Fernandez Noguera)

  • Representatives from the UfM's Parliamentary Assembly met in Barcelona on Friday (by M. Fernández Noguera)
  • Fathallah Sijilmassi (left) and Martin Schulz (right) at Barcelona's meeting (by M. Fernandez Noguera)