Barcelona, 25 May 2015. The Senior Officials of the Union for the Mediterranean met on Sunday 24 May for the second time this year. The meeting, opened in Amman by Nasser Judeh, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, was very significant and symbolic as it was the first time that it had been held in a southern Mediterranean country. The next meeting will be on 27 October in Luxemburg, the upcoming President of the EU Council.
Minister Judeh discussed recent developments in the Middle East, the situation in Syria and its repercussions on the ground, including the Syrian refugees issue and its adverse impact on the Jordanian economy.
He also exchanged views with the Member States representatives regarding the growing phenomena of extremism and radicalism, and highlighted the need to fight these phenomena globally and collectively through a comprehensive approach. The European Neighbourhood Policy review process following the informal Ministerial Conference, which took place in Barcelona on 13 April at the headquarters of the UfM Secretariat, was also discussed during the meeting in Jordan
Furthermore, three new projects were labelled, namely the Bouregreg Valley Development project in the field of urban development, the CEED Growing and Scaling Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and Femmes d’Avenir in the field of Women Empowerment (see below for more information).
The Senior Officials underlined the importance of Blue Economy-related issues and referred to the upcoming Ad Hoc SOM on 28 May held back-to-back with the UfM stakeholders meeting “Towards a Roadmap for Blue Investment and Jobs in the Mediterranean” in Athens on 27 May as preparation for the UfM Ministerial Conference on the Blue Economy.
Representatives from the Member States were briefed on Mediterranean Climate Week and the informal UfM High-Level Conference held in Skhirat, Morocco, last 7 May. The Secretary General of the UfM, Fathallah Sijilmassi, also debriefed the Senior Officials on the three back-to-back meetings (ad-hoc SOM on strengthening the role of women in society, the conclusions of the multi-stakeholder meeting and the High-Level Conference on Fostering Women’s Participation in Economic Life) that took place in Barcelona on 19-21 May.
Bouregreg Valley Development
The project aims to develop new neighbourhoods for professional and residential use to achieve social diversity as well as public amenities and spaces. It will preserve cultivated land, create natural ecological spaces, undertake reforestation actions and restore watercourses that present a risk of gully erosion and landslides. It will also promote an integrated development that meets the area’s present and future needs, including landmark facilities that benefit the entire metropolitan area such as a hospital and the refurbishment of Chellah. Moreover, the project will provide urban continuity between the two towns by improving road infrastructure, links and traffic flow between the cities of Rabat and Salé.
CEED Growing and Scaling Small and Medium-Sized Businesses
It is designed to enhance the leadership, management and entrepreneurial skills of 300 small and medium-sized businesses and women entrepreneurs, diminish the human capital gap, increase the number of women entrepreneurs and managers who own/manage SMEs and scale companies in order to increase the number of jobs created and contribute to the national economies of the region. The regional objective is to form cross-border linkages between entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean which is paramount in growing the economies in the region, facilitate a regional approach for investment, give the opportunity to entrepreneurs to lead new cross-border solutions and help entrepreneurs and their companies find cross-border opportunities.
The project aims to help young women with their professional careers, enhance their ability to access positions of responsibility and develop their involvement in favour of gender equality. It also seeks to disseminate gender equality culture by working with a women’s network engaged in promoting equality in their respective countries and activity fields. Femmes d’Avenir is in line with the UfM Ministerial commitments on Strengthening the Role of Women in Society.