The Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) participated in the 4th Summit of Presidents of Parliament and the 13th Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the UfM (PA-UfM), which took place in Rome on 12-13 May. This is the fourth time the Speakers of Parliaments of the PA-UfM meet after the previous Summits held in Tangiers (2016), Lisbon (2015) and Marseille (2013).
UfM Secretary General Sijilmassi praised the achievements of the Italian Presidency and welcomed the election of Egypt as the new Presidency of the PA-UfM and recalled the active collaboration between the UfM and the PA-UfM in promoting regional dialogue and cooperation in the region. He presented the activities of the Secretariat highlighting the tangible positive impact from the first wave of projects, which is already visible, with a growing number of beneficiaries in the region, mainly women and young people. UfM initiatives aim to consolidate human development and promote sustainable development as the main drivers for stability and integration in the region.
The Speakers of Parliaments discussed employment opportunities, inclusive growth and sustainable development in the Euro-Mediterranean region and expressed their support for the Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs), as an example of the contribution of UfM projects and initiatives to strengthened regional cooperation. Med4Jobs is an UfM cross-sectorial flagship initiative to help increase the employability of young people and women, close the gap between the labour demand and supply and foster a culture of entrepreneurship and private sector development. The 12 cooperation projects currently included under the initiative’s framework have a potential positive impact over 100,000 young people and supporting the development of over 800 SMEs.
Meetings of the different Parliamentary Assembly Committees on Women’s Rights; Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights; Energy, Environment and Water; Economic and Financial Affairs, Social Affairs and Education; and Improving Quality of Life, exchanges between civil societies and Culture, also took place. In line with the priorities of the new UfM Roadmap of Action, Parliamentarians agreed in their recommendations to tackle regional challenges strengthening the dialogue, promoting women’s role in the society, adopting measures to follow path on environmental issues, fostering initiatives concerning job creation and preventing radicalism through investments on education and culture dialogue and trust.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission said: “If we are together in this Union for the Mediterranean, it is because we share not only a geographical space, but common opportunities and challenges”.
Laura Boldrini, President of the Italian Parliament stated: “It is important to launch new integrated cooperation initiatives that target consistent and qualified investments and that will enable these countries to offer their citizens a realistic alternative of prosperity and sustainable development. If these countries can offer jobs, their young people will not risk their lives crossing the sea or join terrorist groups. Jobs, development and growth are fundamental keys to solve the tensions that the Mediterranean region faces today, and the most effective antidote to threats of radicalization and terrorism“.
Pietro Grasso, President of the Italian Senate and incumbent President of the PA-UfM stressed: “Today is a new starting point, and we have confidence in the great potential for dialogue and action of the Union for the Mediterranean and the Parliamentary Assembly, especially at this time of conflicts, tensions and fragmentation”.
Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean said: “It is of utmost importance for the Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretariat of the UfM to work together in promoting a positive agenda for the Euro-Mediterranean region. The best way to address the root causes of the many challenges that affect us and contribute to stability, social development and economic growth is by focusing on the promotion of human development, reinforcing regional integration and supporting sustainable development in the Mediterranean”.