12/01/2013

MP2013, a Euro-Mediterranean project

Marseille-Provence 2013, European capital of culture

Opening weekend January 12-13

 

Europe’s future depends on the Mediterranean

“For better, or perhaps for worse, the future of Europe will once again be decided in the Mediterranean. This has already happened in terms of the Mediterranean environment itself, as shown by the increasing risks of events linked to an extreme climate, of damage to the sea that we all share, of the long-term results of desertification, and of the northward movement of hydric stress phenomena. It is even more fundamentally the case as regards its future economic influence in the world, or for its future security and stability. The success of a shared commitment to sustainable co-development between the two shores would be of the greatest historical importance.” (In Méditerranée, les perspectives du Plan Bleu sur l’environnement et le développement, Éditions de l’Aube, 2005)

The construction of a joint Euro-Mediterranean group and of a balanced co-development project across the region, as discussed and decided upon by the 1995 Barcelona Conference, is conflicting with asymmetries which are set to increase.

Demographic asymmetry

(Paul Balta, in Méditerranée – Défis et enjeux, Éditions L’Harmattan)

Demographic projections indicate that the total population of Mediterranean countries could reach 523 million inhabitants by 2025. This estimated growth of 96 million will essentially concern the Southern and Eastern shores, which will see their populations grow by 92 million. While Northern populations will continue to age, with fertility rates that are incapable of ensuring generational replacement, the South, on the contrary, will remain overwhelmingly young: the proportion of the population under 25 years of age will be everywhere greater than 40%. Even today, the proportion of under-25s is almost twice as great in Algeria as in France (58% as against 31%). If, at the same time, economic activity and employment rates remain unchanged, the South and East of the Mediterranean will lack 34 million jobs. Such a huge imbalance will heighten instability and the risk of conflict and provoke extremely significant migratory movements towards the North.

Economic asymmetry

Inequalities between the countries of the Northern shore, the Latin Arc comprised of Spain, France and Italy, and the Southern countries are widening. The former represents 15% of world trade while the latter accounts for barely 4%. In addition, while the three states of the Maghreb area carry out three quarters of their exchanges with the EU, European trade with North African partners represents only 4% of the latter’s worldwide trade.

Ecological asymmetry

If forecasting is confirmed over the coming 25 years, water consumption needs will increase by 50% in the North and by 400% in the South and East. Yet, in many areas, water is already scarce and pumping from ground water tables or from water courses already outstrips the capacity for natural renewal. Water is already a factor of tension and even conflict between countries. No true international co-operation aiming to improve water resource management is in view.

Cultural asymmetry

A few eloquent figures can shed light on this area too. While, for example, France devotes 2.2% of its Gross Domestic Product to scientific research, this percentage varies between only 0.1% and 0.5% in Southern countries. The countries of the Northern shore publish more than three quarters of the books edited in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean (in 1996, 46,300 titles in Spain, 670 in Algeria). The disparities are of the same order in the fields of cinema, audiovisual and Internet access. Confronted with diagnostic elements like those summarised above, it is tempting to envisage a ‘nightmare scenario’ for the future, especially since the initial appraisals of the Barcelona Process have been disappointing. Indeed, after analysis, the causes for the inadequacy of these results appear deep and durable. This ‘nightmare scenario’, already accepted by many, would lead, at the gates of Europe or even on our own soil, to situations of economic crisis (exploding unemployment and irremediable poverty), social emergency (aggravation of interfaith and inter-ethnic tensions), and deterioration in the quality of urban life and environmental safety (desertification, pollution, scarcity of water.) To oppose these threats, various initiatives have recently been undertaken to reinforce the Mediterranean dimension of European policies for construction. The new ‘European Neighbourhood Policy’ was implemented in 2003 and has developed co-operative action between an enlarged Europe and the countries that stand at its Eastern and Southern borders. It completes and gives new impetus to the plans for the creation of a space of shared prosperity as inscribed in the Barcelona Process. At a regional level, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Région is the Single Managing Authority of the European MED co-operation programme. This programme affects the regions of the Western Mediterranean, widened to include all the regions of Mediterranean Europe. This new responsibility will enable the strategy of Mediterranean co-operation to be strengthened. In addition, in the same context, we should highlight the introduction of an additional European programme, that of Mediterranean cross-border co-operation. In 2004 the member states of the European Union, together with the 10 countries of the Mediterranean basin, created the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the promotion of intercultural dialogue. This Foundation is the primary instrument for the implementation of the third aspect of the MEDA framework agreement signed in Barcelona in 1995. Its aim is to invigorate and support cultural co-operation initiated between the two shores of the Mediterranean basin. The French President has expressed France’s eagerness to begin laying the foundations of a Union of the Mediterranean, thus indicating a will to overcome the false fatalities of division, incomprehension and inequality.

For more informations: www.mp2013.fr

Fundación Asamblea de Ciudadanos y Ciudadanas del Mediterráneo
Calle San Francisco de Borja 20 – 8 - 46007 Valencia, Spain - Phone: +34 963 219 558 - E-mail: secretariat.facm@gmail.com