The Union for the Mediterranean and the Intermediterranean Commission sign a cooperation agreement
The Intermediterranean Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe organised its annual Plenary Assembly in Barcelona, since Catalonia currently holds the organisation’s presidency. This organisation brings together 45 regional governments from 9 different Mediterranean countries. For the first time, the Union for the Mediterranean – which brings the 27 European Union Member States and 16 countries from the Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans together – signs a cooperation agreement with an organisation of regional governments. At the signing ceremony, political leaders asked the European Union to pay more attention to the South, as once it did with Eastern Europe.
Barcelona (ACN).- For the first time, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) signed a cooperation agreement with an organisation of regional governments, the Intermediterranean Commission of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe. The CPMR Intermediterranean Commission held its annual Plenary Assembly in Barcelona on the 26th and 27th of June, since the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, currently chairs the organisation. This organisation brings together 45 regional governments from 9 different Mediterranean countries. Furthermore, the UfM is based in Barcelona and groups the 27 European Union Member States and 16 countries from the Northern Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans together. At the press conference to present the signing of the agreement, which was held at the Catalan Government’s Palace in Barcelona, political leaders asked the European Union to pay more attention to the South, as it has previously done with Eastern Europe.
“Europe’s great challenge is to look towards the South”
The President of the Catalan Government and President of the CPMR Intermediterranean Commission, Artur Mas, stated that “Europe’s great challenge is to look towards the South”. Mas asked the European Union to invest in southern Europe and in the African Mediterranean regions, which are on the other side of the European Union’s border. The Catalan President compared the strategic importance of investing in the Mediterranean area to the importance it had in the prioritisation of Eastern Europe in the 1990s and 2000s.
The EIB should create a fund for SMEs investing in Mediterranean countries
The Vice President of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe and President of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, shared this claim. “Everybody must understand that the southern Mediterranean has to be taken more seriously”, stated Rossi. Rossi has been one of the main promoters of a fund for Tuscan companies investing in Mediterranean countries, which has been praised by the Plenary Assembly of the Intermediterranean Commission. According to Rossi, the rest of the regional governments from the Mediterranean area should create similar guarantee funds to defend the investments by SMEs. In addition, Rossi asked the European Investment Bank (EIB) to promote a similar guarantees fund for SMEs investing in Mediterranean countries at a European level.
Regions have “greater knowledge about local realities”
The Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi, was happy with the signed agreement, which is the first one that the UfM – an organisation made up of states – has signed with an organisation made up of regions. According to Sijilmassi, the agreement will allow the UfM “to find synergies, complementarity [work], a sense of reality and tangible results”. The UfM Secretary General praised the method of working with regional governments in international cooperation programmes since they have a “greater knowledge about local realities”, which will make the international organisation based in Barcelona “more useful”.
Barcelona, the capital of the Mediterranean
Besides, Sijilmassi underlined that the joint facts of hosting the permanent Secretariat of the UfM, and now holding the presidency of the Intermediterranean Commission, push Barcelona towards becoming “the capital of the Mediterranean” in its own right.