In this context, unity and togetherness are more important than ever to face the looming challenges and the monsters lurking in the darkness. This is what has given the UfM its strength, ever since it was set up 12 years ago.
To this day, the Union for the Mediterranean is the only regional political organization supporting dialogue and exchange that brings together all the Mediterranean’s bordering countries alongside the Member States of the European Union. In the current context of heightened tensions and growing areas of turmoil, this is no small feat!
The natural successor to the Barcelona Process, launched in 1995 to strengthen relations between Europe and the countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, the UfM continues to promote concrete forms of cooperation through ambitious projects, with a particular focus on topics such as climate change, energy, and the blue economy. These are topics where the challenges are the same on both sides of the Mediterranean and the solutions come as much from the south as the north, east, or west.
Given the tensions which unfortunately shape the region and the scope of the challenges and their pressing urgency, the UfM’s mission is naturally not without difficulties. This is why it is essential to consolidate these exchanges, especially when it comes to sustainable development, now a major point of concern for all Mediterranean societies. National policy must be informed by digital technology, entrepreneurship, cities and territories, expertise, mobility, and not to mention innovation, in a consistent dialogue with stakeholders from civil society. To that end, the UfM has an important role to play that must be protected.
The anniversary at the end of November 2020 in Barcelona is significant for many reasons. In the context of the global pandemic we’re experiencing, it is an indispensable opportunity to exchange ideas and advice. But it is also an opportunity to inject some new dynamism in the EU’s southern neighborhood policy, particularly when it comes to the aforementioned topics. For its part, France is advocating with others for the European instrument for action in the southern neighborhood to be more developed and better structured, following the example of the EU’s Eastern Partnership.
I would like to end by emphasizing the importance of dialogue between civil societies, which has been at the heart of the Barcelona Process for 25 years. This is why, together with our friends and partners of the 5+5 and Germany, we organized the Summit of the Two Shores (Sommet des Deux Rives) in 2019, which was an important milestone in this ongoing exchange with civil society actors. We want to continue this dialogue with a positive agenda, through concrete projects that make the mission tangible. The worries and challenges that threaten both sides of the Mediterranean demand strong responses and ambitious actions.
Original version here.