Barcelona- Amid remarkable concerns on the survival of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the meeting of the union’s ministers of foreign affairs or their representatives in Barcelona came to adopt a roadmap for the sake of the region.
The roadmap stressed three main goals: contributing to the regional stability, enhancing the Mediterranean integration, and investing in human development.
The meeting also included a two-day forum entitled “Youth to serve stability and growth in the Mediterranean”, which hosted 500 people from all the Mediterranean countries to partake in dozens of symposiums and workshops.
In his opening speech, Fathallah Sijilmass, secretary general of the union asserted that all the convening parties in Barcelona have agreed on the importance of reaching regional solutions to confront current challenges.
He added that security requires growth and that all parties have to work hard to reach effective solutions for their serious challenges including illegal migrations, terrorism, and fundamentalism, by enhancing economic and social development, providing work opportunities for youths and by encouraging dialogue and mutual understanding.
The Union, which joins conflicting parties, faced many threatening challenges like the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Gaza wars, and the Arab Spring, but succeeded in coping with them; the Union has launched projects of humanitarian and economic growth, and maintained its main mission as a platform for the regional dialogue.
During the meeting, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini considered that only greater regional integration can reduce the instability of the Mediterranean region and solve conflicts.
The Mediterranean parties have agreed that the Union’s projects of human and economic development have been the perfect response to the security challenges and the migration waves.
Mogherini said that the Union has adopted 47 regional projects with a budget of EUR5.5 including 25 projects, which were already launched. Till date, the Union’s budget has been covered by the European Union and the member states.
However, ministers who gathered in Barcelona have agreed to open doors for external funding, which reflect the member states’ will in expanding the General Secretariat’s efforts.
A diplomatic source that attended the meeting told Asharq Al-Awsat that this Union cannot solve the region’s crises and that it is not assigned to. However, he considered that the Union can efficiently contribute to solutions as it is the only platform that maintained dialogue and communication lines among parties despite the major obstacles.
The European source added that the region has faced a phase of uncertainty because of the unclear policies of the new U.S. administration. He concluded that while waiting for the regional and international solutions for the region’s crises, the Union will maintain its efforts in implementing projects to help women and youths in the east and south Mediterranean in cooperation with the regions’ governments.