Barcelona, 24 October 2014. In line with its strategy to strengthen relations with the private sector and promote inclusive development and regional integration, the UfM Secretariat organised a round table session today at its headquarters in Barcelona. The event gathered 50 high-level private sector representatives from the Euro-Mediterranean region. Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, European Investment Bank Vice President, and Mr Jaloul Ayed, President of the MED Confederation, participated as keynote speakers.
The meeting aimed to establish a platform for dialogue and networking between the main private sector players, as well as to create a shared vision to address the region’s most pressing challenges. Participants engaged in an open and active discussion sharing experiences, success stories, challenges and difficulties. Some of the strategic topics of discussion were youth unemployment, regional trade and competitiveness as well as social responsibility. This round table was the first of a series of meetings aiming to involve the private sector in the implementation of UfM initiatives and projects.
Mr de Fontaine Vive stated: “The private sector plays an important role to create value and jobs both in European and Mediterranean countries. It is key in the field of innovation, contributing to increase competitiveness.”
For his part, Mr Ayed asserted: “If the private sector leveraged its full potential, the Mediterranean region could become the springboard to prosperity not only for the Mediterranean countries, but also for the entire African continent.”
Investment in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries is of particular concern, where youth unemployment has reached about 30%. Small and medium enterprises are key to creating opportunities in the region; they contribute nearly 35% of national GDPs while generating 80% of jobs.
As a platform fostering dialogue, coordination and development of synergies, the UfM Secretariat has undertaken several efforts to engage private sector players in addressing the region’s challenges by holding regular consultations and discussions with international financial institutions (IFIs), private companies, international and regional organisations as well as civil society representatives. These private sector development activities are undertaken in coherence and coordination with the European Neighbourhood policy and objectives.