Barcelona, 8 October 2018– The third Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Regional Forum was held in Barcelona under the title ‘10 years: Building together the future of regional cooperation’.Consolidated as the annual gathering of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of UfM Member States, the Forum provided the occasion to draw up a state-of-play of regional cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean area and its prospects, as well as to spotlight where the UfM needs to redouble its efforts to meet current and future challenges. Ministers took stock of the implementation of the UfM Roadmap endorsed a year ago and committed to amplifying the impetus given to the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.This third edition of the Regional Forum was chaired by the UfM Co-Presidency, assumed by Federica Mogherini,
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, and Ayman Safadi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan, and hosted by Josep Borrell, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and Nasser Kamel, the UfM Secretary General.
As stated in the official conclusions issued by the UfM Co-Presidency, Ministers reaffirmed “their strong political commitment to promote regional cooperation and recognized the UfM as a unique, action-driven platform to intensify joint efforts to address common challenges and create opportunities in the Euro-Mediterranean region, placing the people and their legitimate demands at the center of the cooperation and working together to address the serious challenges that undermine prosperity and stability in the region ”.
Over the last decade, the UfM has convened more than 25 ministerial meetings, established 12 regional expert platforms in key priority areas and organized more than 300 dialogue forums, bringing together over 25 000 stakeholders from across the region.
Furthermore, UfM Member states have endorsed 54 cooperation projects of regional scope worth €5.6 billion, ranging from sustainable development initiatives and urban infrastructure projects to programmes fostering multi-sectorial capacity building, gender equality, entrepreneurship or job creation.
Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, stated:“This Forum is a true reflection of the shared political commitment of all 43 Member States to support regional dialogue, convergence and integration.National policies alone cannot deal timely and effectively with the current serious challenges facing the region. Thiscollective sense of purpose and responsibility to promote regional cooperation is key to link the global and national policy frameworks and will serve in our endeavour to create inclusive human and sustainable development throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region.”
With young people and women at the heart of UfM’s action, this year’s Regional Forum was preceded by the first Stakeholders’ Dialogue on the Mediterranean Initiative for Jobs (Med4Jobs). The event brought together project promoters, beneficiaries and key institutions to examine its impact and build on the opportunities and success stories from the 13 regional projects that are promoted with a view to promote entrepreneurship, improve employability and encourage job creation. Participants stressed how the combination of a young population with high levels of unemployment must not only be tackled, but could in fact be turned into an opportunity as recent studies indicate that the region’s GDP could increase by 20 billion euros if youth unemployment was halved.
Launched back in 2013, Med4Jobs is a flagship cross-sectoral and project-based UfM initiative that has become a pipeline of regional projects. There are currently 13 UfM-labelled projects under this initiative.
In January 2017, under the EU and Jordan UfM Co-presidency, the UfM Member States gave a strong political commitment to strengthen regional cooperation in the Mediterranean by endorsing a roadmap for action at the second Regional Forum of the UfM under the theme of Mediterranean in Action: Youth for Stability and Development.
The UfM Co-presidency, the EU and Jordan, and the 43 Member called for unity and collective work during their high level meeting held in Barcelona in November 2015. 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, stressed the importance of the UfM as the regional framework for political dialogue and cooperation in the Mediterranean.