UfM – What is your vision on the role and activities of the UfM Secretariat?
Marcus Cornaro – Historic developments in the region confirm that many problems, whether political, economic or social are regional challenges that need to be met with regional responses. The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is uniquely suited, as a key forum of 43 Partners to do precisely that by conceiving and implementing concrete projects, thus addressing the urgent needs of the local populations.
The Commission sees the UfM Secretariat’s role as a catalyst for the development and financing of regional projects of strategic importance which have been identified at the Paris Summit: notably the Mediterranean Solar Plan, the de-pollution of the Mediterranean, the development of motorways of the sea and land highways, and the Mediterranean business development initiative.
UfM – What has the partnership between the Secretariat and the European Commission already achieved and how can it be further reinforced?
Marcus Cornaro – First of all, the Commission supports the Secretary General’s approach to focus the work of the Secretariat on projects’ selection, their labelling by the 43 member countries and actively pursuing their funding and launch. So far, the UfM has endorsed eleven projects for which it is currently looking for financing. We need to register progress on flagship projects such as the desalination plant in Gaza, the TransMaghreb Highway or the Mediterranean Solar Plan, as well as new initiatives on job creation.
In order to strengthen our synergies and in the light of the close cooperation we wish to further strengthen between the UfM and all services of the Commission, the Commission has recently seconded an official to the UfM Secretariat in Barcelona.
UfM – In which sectors do you see the greatest potential for UfM action?
Marcus Cornaro – We want to reinvigorate the process of sectorial cooperation, and to do so we can build on the work of Sector DGs of the Commission which have actively continued their work at technical level. In order for this work to be given momentum and direction, it needs to be validated at Ministerial level. We are actively preparing the ground for Ministerial meetings, throughout 2013, in the areas of transport, research, energy, industry and environment.