Barcelona, 22 June 2015. The Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), Mr Fathallah Sijilmassi, was invited to Brussels by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (AFET) to present the annual report of the General Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean. Led by the Chair of the AFET Committee, Mr Elmar Brok, the meeting was attended by several MEPs who sit on the Committee and representatives of different political parties.
During the meeting, Mr Fathallah Sijilmassi presented the main lines of activity of the UfM General Secretariat taken over the course of 2014, highlighting the intensification of high-level meetings, the development of new strategic projects and the strengthening of ties between public and private actors in the Mediterranean countries.
Mr Sijilmassi pointed out that “the UfM, on the initiative of its co-chairs, the EU and Jordan, and in coordination with all the partners in the region, has contributed towards the development of regional cooperation in the Mediterranean by re-starting the political dialogue and the ministerial conferences in response to the major challenges faced by the region. This year was also the time to develop and speed up implementation of new regional projects that are key socio-economic and strategic drivers: 33 regional labelled projects that, together, are worth around 5 billion euros”. These projects relate to inclusive growth, youth employability, empowerment of women and promotion of student mobility, as well as integrated urban development and sustainable development.
The UfM also helped to provide structure for regional activities, by strengthening the ties between different actors in the region and organising high-level meetings that brought together more than 3000 representatives from governments, international organisations, financial institutions, the private sector, civil society, parliamentarians and local councillors.
While pointing out the numerous opportunities that exist, Mr Sijilmassi also stressed that the region must face up to some major security and socio-economic challenges. Illegal immigration, terrorism and extremism, as well as youth unemployment, weak economic growth and climate change are all issues that are shared by all countries in the region and that require urgent collective and regional responses.
“It is urgent that we mobilise all the political, institutional and financial forces to make 2015 a year in which we consolidate and accelerate the dynamics of regional cooperation, so that we can collectively, efficiently and on a long-term basis deal with the numerous challenges faced by the Mediterranean region”, he remarked.
Watch the intervention