Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Online Magazine

Western Mediterranean – A new plan for growth and, especially, jobs

Western Mediterranean – A new plan for growth and, especially, jobs

A worrying wave of unemployment, including youth unemployment, has been hitting the Mediterranean basin in recent years. 25.4 million people are out of work, at least 7 million of whom are under 24[1]. Another 100 million people are expected to join the region's job market in the next 30 years[2], while the current and projected influx of work able migrants and refugees is expected to generate additional pressure on labour markets and other core societal structures.

Against this backdrop, the governments of ten Mediterranean countries – Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia – have come up with a plan[3]. Some of the jobs needed, they argue, will have to come from the blue economy. The maritime economy’s high-value sectors such as tourism, research or transport, to name but a few, can create high-quality jobs. The question is how to boost these sectors now so that they can supply enough jobs in the long run.

© European Union, 2017

There are some critical factors that need to be in place for sustainable economic development to take hold, the first one being security. The countries in question have about 27,000 km of coastline to control and must optimize the systems used to share and analyse traffic data, environmental data and migratory flows. By the end of 2018, all national coastguards will be adequately equipped to join the same surveillance operational network, which means they will be better able to provide an adequate, collective response to accidents and threats over an area of 250,000 km2.

A second prerequisite for growth is innovation. Joining forces on marine observation, marine knowledge and cluster cooperation is also part of the plan. The ten countries envisage increasing green ports, sustainable aquaculture and off-season tourism by 2022. And in creating the conditions for sustainable investment, they haven’t overlooked the need to invest in people too. Through new forms of traineeships, new advanced schools and exchanges between training institutes, they are set to prepare today's youth for the maritime jobs of tomorrow.

And they’re not waiting for the next generation to tackle the environmental issues of the Mediterranean Sea. No healthy growth can come from an unhealthy sea. By 2021 all the countries will have adopted similar principles on maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal zone management. They will also upgrade their conservation measures for both fish stocks (with various tools to tackle overfishing) and general biodiversity (with marine protected areas and observation networks) by the early 2020s.

Maritime security, smart investment and good governance are the three axes of this new plan. By fostering sustainable growth, these elements will create a variety of new job opportunities. From the marine biologist to the coastguard officers, from the dock crane operator to the engineer designing a green fuelling station for ships, from owning a sea front restaurant to owning a fishing boat, "blue careers" come in many different shapes and sizes. They say that two thirds of today’s schoolchildren will eventually be employed in jobs that have yet to be created[4]. The new cooperative efforts of the ten countries of the western Mediterranean are designed to open up new professional avenues and offer new and exciting maritime prospects to young workers.




[3] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean, COM(2017) 183 final and COM(2017) 130 final


Past Issues
June  2017 - Issue 75
March  2017 - Issue 74
November 2016 - Issue 73
August 2016 - Issue 72