T a project of union, but a union of pro­jects’

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

pe­riod, it man­aged to cre­ate the in­fra­struc­ture for a bet­ter fu­ture. Kamel went on to say that while be­fore there had been prob­lems with hold­ing meet­ings in such mem­ber states, now they are tak­ing place on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, trade min­is­ters are now try­ing to cre- ate trade-free zones and trans­port of­fi­cials are try­ing to cre­ate trans­port that will link the north and the south of the re­gion. He said that not only had the project sur­vived, but it had ac­tu­ally kept go­ing at a pace and is now at the point where the pace is in­creas­ing much more.

Deal­ing with the splin­tered Mediter­ranean mi­gra­tion cri­sis

Dis­cussing the Mediter­ranean, Kamel said that it has his­tor­i­cally al­ways been a tran­sit re­gion, not just a source of mi­gra­tion. When one looks at the real mi­gra­tion zones they be­gin out­side the Mediter­ranean. He stresses the fact that the Union does not fo­cus on man­ag­ing mi­gra­tion, but rather the root causes and that the Mediter­ranean needs to start look­ing to­wards its neigh­bours – both Africa and Asia – to see if it can help with th­ese root causes.

The UfM is not at the fore­front but in­stead fo­cuses on mi­gra­tion as a re­sult of nu­mer­ous chal­lenges such as en­vi­ron­ment, cli­mate change and em­ploy­a­bil­ity. Once more, the Union is cre­at­ing and help­ing to de­velop those economies in both the north and south to be­come more re­silient and cre­ate em­ploy­ment for their own cit­i­zens. Kamel said that their fo­cus is more on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion sys­tems and ex­changes be­tween na­tion states, rather than han­dling mi­gra­tion po­lit­i­cally.

Main achieve­ments 10 years down the road

The main achieve­ment would be the struc­ture of re­la­tions be­tween the south­ern and north­ern shore, thereby hav­ing a de­fined re­la­tion­ship in ar­eas such as trade, in­dus­try and the en­vi­ron­ment – to name but a few. One tan­gi­ble achieve­ment would be the Mediter­ranean Ini­tia­tive for Jobs, bet­ter known as Med4Jobs. This ini­tia­tive was in­tended to help in­crease em­ploy­a­bil­ity among young peo­ple and fos­ter the de­vel­op­ment of en­trepreneur­ship. Kamel said that Med4Jobs had pro­vided over 200,000 jobs in the last few years. He pointed out that the Union has also launched the De­sali­na­tion Fa­cil­ity for Gaza, an ini­tia- tive for cleaner wa­ter for those liv­ing in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. The main goal of the Union is to cre­ate in­fra­struc­tures to help de­velop re­gions of co­op­er­a­tion in than those lack­ing it.

Over the next 20 years

Quot­ing one of his pre­de­ces­sors, Kamel said that the Union it­self is not a project of union, but a union of pro­jects: those pro­jects be­ing free trade, more trans­port net­works, more co­op­er­a­tion on en­ergy and so­lu­tions to en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges. He said that the work done in th­ese sec­tors will not only ben­e­fit the Union but also the cit­i­zens of the Mediter­ranean. It is es­ti­mated that 70 per cent of our pop­u­la­tion will be liv­ing on the shores of the Mediter­ranean and along­side Malta will be Italy and Egypt, as more peo­ple move to­wards the sea.

He stresses the im­por­tance of re­flect­ing on a sus­tain­able Blue Econ­omy for the Mediter­ranean. No big glo­ri­ous dreams, he says, but, rather, push­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gion to have more pos­i­tive re­sults.

Nasser Kamel

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