Barcelona, 12 March 2015. Upon the invitation of President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean, Fathallah Sijilmassi, and the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, participated yesterday in a working session between European Parliamentarians and European Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean (PA-UfM), held at the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg.
In light of the current political and institutional debate regarding the new ENP, the meeting was dedicated to discussing challenges and opportunities in the region, with different political parliamentarian groups. The meeting took place on the margin of the Plenary Session of the European Parliament.
Sijilmassi presented UfM’s endeavors concerning regional policy dialogue, projects and initiatives to the members of the European Parliament. He highlighted the importance of seizing the political and institutional momentum to give a qualitative impetus to the regional partnership to reinforce Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, dialogue and solidarity. “2015 is a strategic year for the Euro-Mediterranean relations, a historical opportunity to connect the political strategy and action on the ground. We need to build a stronger regional cooperation in order to better face common challenges such as unemployment, security, climate change, energy and immigration.”
Commissioner Johannes Hahn recalled the EU’s continuous support to the UfM, and assured that it is a common European interest to build strong regional cooperation in close coordination with the UfM.
Eduard Kukan, rapporteur of the ENP, emphasised that the UfM has formal infrastructure in place that facilitate efficiency and success, and therefore the EU should strengthen said infrastructure through the new ENP. In his speech, EP Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Human Rights Coordinator for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, Richard Howitt, affirmed that regional challenges, mainly security and migration, need to be addressed by strengthening political dialogue platforms, such as the UfM.
MEPs expressed interest in strengthening the political and operational dimensions of the UfM and stressed the importance of the regional dimension in line with the ongoing debate on the ENP review. They agreed on the principle of regional inclusiveness in the review process and called for enhanced engagement in UfM activities.
The UfM Secretariat, in line with its commitment to cement strategic partnerships with Parliaments, will attend the second Summit of Speakers of Parliaments and the PA-UfM Plenary Session, set to take place from 11-12 May 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal.