Sustainable economic development
The EU-Mediterranean partnership puts significant emphasis on sustainable economic development through a number of co-operative initiatives, programmes and projects.
Key areas where the partnership works hard to address sustainable economic development issues include the following:
Economic integration, investment and dialogue
The FEMISE network has been financed by the European Commission since 1997, and undertakes economic research and organises dialogue to assess the state of the EU-Med Partnership.
The Barcelona Summit in November 2005 advocated the acceleration of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) among Mediterranean partners to stimulate investment within an integrated economic zone and to achieve concrete progress towards the objective of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area by 2010. EC support to South-South FTAs has so far materialised through a programme to support the implementation of the Agadir Agreement. Under this programme, activities such as studies/analyses in the economic and trade domain have been developed as well as support to the creation of a technical unit established in Amman, Jordan.
There is a need to improve the investment climate and to energise the reform agenda in some Mediterranean countries. Since 2002, the Commission has financed FEMIP, which aims to enhance the supply of foreign and domestic financing for both private and public investment in the region. The Commission support to FEMIP includes funding for private equity operations as well as technical assistance, and currently comprises an active portfolio of more than € 400 million.
From 2002 to June 2007, the Commission also supported the ANIMA network, which aimed to strengthen co-operation between European and Mediterranean organisations that are involved in investment promotion. Since 2008, Invest in Med is taking over and will develop investments and trade flows in the region.
By 2010, the Euro-Mediterranean region should become a vast free-trade area with strong development prospects for entrepreneurs. Economic integration is taking place in a global context of increasing trade and competition.
To meet this challenge, the Commission supports various regional programmes and projects:
- The Euro-Med Quality project helped Mediterranean countries to develop quality products for the international marketplace.
- Euro-Med Market aimed to help establish a seamless free-trade area between the two regions.
- MedIbtikar (Euromed Innovation and Technology Programme) aims to boost the innovative capacities of Mediterranean businesses.
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership agreed as far back as 1998 that work on energy issues should cover the following priorities:
- Security of supply
- Energy industry competitiveness
- Environmental protection and sustainable development
The Euro-Mediterranean Conferences of Energy Ministers held in Athens and Rome in the year 2003 put an increased emphasis on the necessity of ensuring security of energy supply through better interconnections and increased regional integration.
Hence in 2004, three sub-regional projects were launched to support i) the integration of the Maghreb electricity market; ii) the creation of a Euro-Mashreq gas market (EAMGM); and iii) the establishment of a Joint Office aimed to enhance energy cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The Euro-Med Energy Forum, held in 2006, defined some new priorities for the sector including: the need to integrate energy markets; the promotion of mutually valuable energy projects; and increasing support to sustainable energy initiatives.
A significant proportion of the EC resources available under the regional budget are also used to support the FEMIP Technical Assistance Support Fund, which helps prepare energy-related projects and to provide interest rates subsidies to the European Investment Bank.
Since 2007 and 2008, new projects have been launched:
- Electricity market integration: it aims to harmonise the legislative and regulatory framework of Algeria, Marocco and Tunisia, in line with EU standards
- MED EMIP: its objectives are to enhance the integration of the energy markets and to improve security and sustainability
- MEDREG: it strengthens the cooperation between EU energy regulators and those of the partner countries
Over the past few years, the Commission has prioritised regional transport programmes which have addressed shared challenges and the need to develop common standards. Projects which reflect this approach include:
- SAFEMED, which seeks to improve maritime safety and prevent sea pollution.
- Euromed Aviation, with its emphasis on creating a common aviation area.
- MEDA Motorways of the Sea, aiming to modernise maritime connections between the two sides of the Mediterranean
In parallel, the Euromed Transport project has provided an overall policy framework for establishing and maintaining sustained policy dialogue and co-operation between the two regions’ transport actors, notably via the Euromed Transport Forum.
The important progress accomplished by the Euromed Transport Forum was recognised by the first Euromed Ministerial Conference, held in December 2005 in Marrakech. This meeting provided the opportunity to reaffirm the political impetus of our cooperation in the field of transport by adopting the recommendations of the Blue Paper on Euro-Mediterranean transport networks, namely the opening up of transport markets, the development of infrastructure, in particular interconnections, safety and security of transport systems, and the smooth functioning of the multimodal freight transport of chain.
The promotion and the protection of the environment is an essential dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The challenges related to the scarcity of water and environmental degradation should be tackled at national and regional levels to ensure the sustainable development of the region. Water and environment programmes have the objective to stop degradation and protect the particularly fragile Mediterranean eco-region. The SMAP (Short and Medium Term Priority Environmental Action Programme) and the MEDA Water Regional Programme were the most relevant environmental regional programmes under the MEDA instrument.
In 2002, at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, the EU launched the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) to support the achievement of the water-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The EUWI aims to improve coordination and cooperation through national policy dialogues involving national governments, donors, the water industry, NGOs and other stakeholders. EUWI MED is the regional component for the Mediterranean countries.
During the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration Summit in 2005, it was agreed to de-pollute the Mediterranean by 2020. The corresponding Horizon 2020 initiative was launched the following year and is built around four elements: reduce the most significant pollution sources in the fields of industrial emissions/municipal waste/urban wastewater, capacity building, research, and monitoring.
The Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Water in Jordan 2008 agreed on the development of a Strategy for Water in the Mediterranean to be adopted in 2010. The strategy will encompass four major areas: water governance, water and climate change, water financing, water demand management.
Cooperation in the field of information society is essential to contribute to the sustainable economic and social development of an increasingly integrated Euro-Mediterranean region. In this sector, the programme EUMEDIS has interconnected European with Mediterranean research networks and funded 21 regional pilot information society projects in sectors such as healthcare, e-commerce, tourism and cultural heritage, research, business and innovation, and education. The NATP project (New Approaches to Telecommunications policy) in 2002 has established a Euro-Mediterranean dialogue in this field.
The MEDSTAT programme aims at improving statistical information and strengthening the Mediterranean Partners’ statistical systems. This programme helps to produce updated, reliable and relevant statistical data necessary for political decision-making and to ensure good governance. The programme now enters in its third phase.