26 October 2015. Luxembourg. “The increasing magnitude of the current challenges in the Mediterranean further highlights the importance of a comprehensive, balanced and concerted approach in the Euro-Mediterranean agenda, directly addressing socio-economic and sustainable development issues with a structured approach, and fully encompassing the added value of regional cooperation,” said Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the UfM, during the Conference.
The UfM, a longstanding partner of the EIB, advocates policies to reinforce ecosystems that are friendly to innovation, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, especially in the framework of its Med4Jobs programme. The UfM is currently working on 13 projects to promote youth employability and inclusive growth and more than 200,000 young people are expected to benefit from them. Moreover, last year UfM launched a strategy for private sector development to engage private sector players in addressing the region’s challenges.
The 15th FEMIP meeting, hosted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in partnership with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), explored the links between private sector finance, entrepreneurship and job creation with a focus on the tools for financing pioneering investments in the Mediterranean region. The conference was opened by Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg Minister of Labour, Ramon Escolano, Vice-President of the EIB, and Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the UfM, and was concluded by Werner Hoyer, the President of the EIB, and Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs.
As part of its private sector operations the EIB is committed to supporting and developing the SME sector. Recently signed credit lines totalling EUR 70 million, provided to “Banque Tuniso-Koweitienne” (BTK) and to AMEN bank in Tunisia, are evidence of this approach. The two operations were carried out in close cooperation with Reseau Entreprendre, a UfM Med4Jobs labelled project supporting SMEs.
Also at the conference the Luxembourg Presidency presented an Initiative to support youth employment through vocational training in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia which was announced in Luxembourg on 16 July 2015. The Initiative, implemented within the framework of the UfM, seeks to reduce the skills mismatch affecting youth employment in the region through the promotion of North-South partnerships and cooperation between vocational training centres. The first phase is to be replicated at a later stage to include Mashrek countries.