MFA Nasser Bourita: "Our space needs us to give it another destiny"
Co-chaired by the High Representative of the EU, Mr. Josep Borrell, the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Arancha Gonzalez and the Secretary General of the UfM, Mr. Nasser Kamal, this forum saw the participation of King Felipe VI of Spain and brought together the heads of diplomacy of the Member States of the UfM to reaffirm their commitment to the principles of Barcelona Process and to reiterate their commitment to Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and Mediterranean cooperation.
In this context, and while recalling that in 1995, the countries of the Mediterranean region were enthusiastic about “the area of stability and shared prosperity”, which the Barcelona Process set out to build, MFA Bourita stressed that 25 years later, it has not yet been fully realized.
The Minister thus declined the paradoxes that have marked the progress of the Barcelona Process, starting with an economic paradox, on which he stated that “EUROMED has managed to turn the Mediterranean into a market of nearly 800 million consumers, but economic integration is still not on track with 90% of intra-EU trade, compared to only 9% between North and South.”
With a trade deficit with the EU of around €70 billion, the Minister emphasized the free trade agreements which, instead of closing the gap with the North, paradoxically contributed to increasing the gap, thus drawing a fracture line rather than a hyphen that translates into wealth four times greater in the North and a GDP/capita differential of 1 to 9.”
Co-development is therefore a crucial issue. The North-South development gap can no longer be a lamentable observation. It must be the leitmotiv of a “Mediterranean cohesion policy” that converts national policies towards the “Area of Shared Prosperity”, he stressed.
MFA Bourita called for the need of “the creation of a dedicated financial instrument that would allow the development of infrastructures and the evolution of the Euro-Mediterranean area from a 'market' model to a 'productive' model.” He added “the financial instrument is the necessary complement to the Mediterranean projects”.
In the second part of his speech, MFA Bourita expressed his concern regarding the “over politicization” of the Barcelona Process. “The UfM is the only organization in the world that carries the Mediterranean in its name,” however, “it is precisely one that does not address the major issues of the Mediterranean,” the Minister said.
He also noted the lack of consultation within the UfM concerning the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, at a time when the Mediterranean was a pandemic epicenter.
According to MFA Bourita, “we cannot create a political space and dismantle it.” This has only weakened the Barcelona Process and even made it invisible «in the eyes of the world, » stressed the Minister. Addressing the human dimension, MFA Bourita called for reinventing the "Social, Cultural and Human Partnership", pillars of the process, calling for moving beyond the logic of containment, and to reconnect with the aim of reconciliation and understanding people, which is cherished in the Barcelona Declaration.
It has thus encouraged the construction of a positive migration agenda, optimizing the demographic dividend in the South, and cultivating success stories, evoking the example of the EUROMED University of Fez which hosts: 2100 students, including 46% Fellows, with 32 nationalities and 8 countries of mobility.
On Governance, MFA Bourita said “it is time to break with the asymmetry of the Barcelona process,” recalling that the South also has a responsibility to actively participate in the UfM.
MFA Bourita also noted that “involvement in the activities of the UfM also depends on involvement in its financing and decision shaping. The more we invest, the less we desert the structures of the UfM at the political level».
Quoting His Majesty King Mohammed VI, May God Assist Him, “There is only one destiny for our region; the one we will work on it to give” MFA Nasser Bourita concluded, “Today, our space needs us to give it another destiny.”
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