Luxembourg, 29 June 2015. Under Luxembourg’s current Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mr Fathallah Sijilmassi, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, held a working session in Luxembourg with Mr Jean Asselborn, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. During the meeting, it was noted that the Luxembourg Presidency comes just as the European Union announces the new strategic axes of its Neighbourhood Policy to be implemented this autumn.
Luxembourg’s Presidency also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Barcelona Process, the precursor to the UfM. During the meeting between Mr Sijilmassi and Mr Asselborn, it was observed that 2015 should be the year in which new impetus is given to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, particularly given the major strategic challenges facing the region, but also the significant potential existing there.
“The Secretariat General of the Union for the Mediterranean will work closely with the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union in order to strengthen the mobilisation of all stakeholders with the aim of deepening the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. We must intensify our efforts to achieve a balanced approach between security and development in the face of major challenges such as the fight against terrorism, extremism and illegal migration, while also taking into account the need to strengthen intercultural dialogue.”
Mr Sijilmassi also held a working session with Mr Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg’s Minister of Employment, with whom he discussed the possibilities for action and initiatives to be implemented in the field of employment and vocational training throughout the region. Mr Sijilmassi and Mr Schmit have highlighted the importance of the issue of employment, especially for young people, as an essential element for sustainable economic and social development. They have agreed to closely coordinate their activities in order to make employment and vocational training the core issue of an operational strategy in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. In this respect, Mr Sijilmassi welcomed Minister Schmit’s proposal to hold an informal meeting in Luxembourg on 16 July between Ministers of Labour and Employment from the European Union and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) and confirmed the support of the Secretariat General to this process.