Barcelona, 26 November 2015 – The UfM Co-presidency, the EU and Jordan, and the 43 Member states have given a strong political commitment to the UfM and have called for unity and collective work to face the challenges of the Mediterranean region during their informal high level meeting held today in Barcelona. Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Nasser Judeh, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, and José Manuel García-Margallo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, have stressed the importance of the UfM as the regional framework for political dialogue and cooperation in the Mediterranean.
Three years after the European Union and Jordan assumed the Co-presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean -established in 2008 in Paris-, and 20 years exactly after the Barcelona Declaration launched the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, the UfM held in Barcelona an informal meeting of the 43 member States, 26 of them represented at ministerial level.
“Today, as we are facing increasing challenges, such as terrorism, extremism and illegal migration, I would like to assure before you the determination of the Secretariat to continue to accelerate and amplify our work in order to reach a wider impact on the level of regional cooperation and integration. Member States political support and the strong and positive reference in the European Neighbourhood Policy Joint Communication gives new impetus to the UfM in 2016 and beyond”, underlined Fathallah Sijilmassi.
The reviewed European Neighbourhood Policy, issued on November 18, opens new perspectives for the Union for the Mediterranean. The organization embodies the potential of regional cooperation in providing sustainable responses to the current challenges in the region through sustainable development and economic and social cohesion.
In addition to the strong political support, participants have as well recalled the importance of the UfM concrete development projects that have direct impact on the lives of our citizens. Following the informal high level meeting of official delegations, the Co-Presidencies, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain and the Secretary General of the UfM opened the conference to representatives of civil society and private sector, regional actors, international financial institution and socioeconomic projects promoters to discuss the way forward on the three main priorities of the UfM: inclusive growth and youth employment; sustainable development and women empowerment.
Fathallah Sijilmassi has recalled that the Secretariat has developed 33 regional labelled projects – 18 under implementation- along these three main strategic lines. The UfM Secretariat promotes projects and initiatives on women’s socio-economic empowerment targeting more than 50,000 beneficiaries from 20 countries and on youth employability and inclusive growth targeting more than 200,000 beneficiaries and 1,000 SMEs.
During the conference, the UfM project “Réseau Entreprendre en Méditerranée” has been officially launched under the framework of the Med4Jobs initiative. The project seeks to support the creation of “Réseau Entreprendre” business associations in Morocco and Tunisia to provide mentoring to new business starters with entrepreneurial potential. It encourages SMEs development and job creation in beneficiary countries, leading to the creation of more than 450 companies by 2017 and around 5000 jobs within the next 5 years.
Several UfM cooperation agreements have been signed with Microsoft Morocco, the Centre for Transportation Studies for the Western Mediterranean (CETMO) and the Energy Charter Secretariat. The Norway Government announced a contribution of 650.000€ to finance UfM projects on gender equality such as Young Women as Job Creators and the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) and the Euro-Mediterranean University of Fes (UEMF) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in order to strengthen cooperation in the Higher Education and Research domain.
Speech by Mr. Fathallah Sijilmassi UfM Secretary General – Meeting of Ministers of the UfM
Speech by Mr. Fathallah Sijilmassi UfM Secretary General – Opening Session UfM Conference
Speech by Mr. Fathallah Sijilmassi UfM Secretary General – Closing Session UfM Conference