The Foreign Ministers of the “5 + 5 Dialogue” welcome the leading role of the Union for the Mediterranean in the region

At the 14th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the 5+5 Dialogue in Algiers, the Ministers welcomed the leading role of the UfM, stressing the importance for the General Secretariat to continue promoting practical and structural projects.”

The Ministers are committed to advocating an enhanced role for the UfM, in improving governance, increasing political dialogue within it, and in reinforcing the synergies with the “5+5 Dialogue”, as well as with other Euro-Mediterranean bodies.

The Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean was incorporated in the Declaration (page 7)

 

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Declaration

UfM Conference highlights the key role of the Blue Economy

The Ministers of Western Mediterranean countries gathered in Naples (Italy), on 30 November 2017, to endorse and launch the Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean – a goal-oriented series of joint actions to make the common sea space safer, cleaner and more productive.

Ministers agreed on the Initiative’s system of governance and decided that its steering committee will be co-chaired by Algeria and France in 2018, France and Morocco in 2019 and Morocco and Italy in 2020. The informal meeting culminated with the adoption of a declaration signed by the 10 participating countries (Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia).

 

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Declaration (EN)

EC-Maritime affairs

Union for the Mediterranean

WestMed Initiative launched

Today the European Commission launched a new initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean region.

The region covers economic hubs like Barcelona, Marseille, Naples and Tunis. It also includes tourist destinations like the Balearic Islands, Sicily and Corsica.

The sea’s biodiversity is under severe pressure with a recent report by scientists from the Joint Research Centre indicating that 50% has been lost in the last 50 years. In addition to this are recent security and safety concerns from the increase in migration from the South to the North.

This initiative will allow EU and neighbouring countries to work together to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

The initiative is the fruit of years’ of dialogue between ten countries of the Western Mediterranean region who are ready and willing to work together on these shared interests for the region: five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). It follows up on the Ministerial Declaration on Blue Economy endorsed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) on 17 November 2015.

 

Goals and Priorities

  1. A safer and more secure maritime space
    Priorities include cooperation between national coast guards and the response to accidents and oil spills. Specific actions will focus on the upgrade of traffic monitoring infrastructure, data sharing and capacity
  2. A smart and resilient blue economy
    Priorities include new data sourcing, biotechnology and coastal tourism.
  3. Better governance of the sea.
    Priorities include spatial planning, marine knowledge, habitat conservation and sustainable fisheries

Full reports

The initiative is presented in two documents:

The Communication for an Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western

The Framework for Action

WestMed Initiative shifts Focus towards Key Areas

After extensive discussions with stakeholders and after having studied numerous policy and research papers, it was concluded that a slight change in course is required for this initiative.

Phase I was meant to establish the added value of an overall maritime approach for the Western Mediterranean. And, whether there is enough support from the most relevant stakeholders to move forward.

However, rather than creating an all-encompassing approach, it became clear that most can be gained by identifying and working on specific gaps, overlappings and cooperation opportunities between already existing policies and initiatives.

This has resulted in a focus on a limited number of key areas that, if addressed properly, can benefit most within the context of strengthening a sustainable blue economy for this sea basin and the countries bordering it.

These areas have been identified and are currently being discussed with the parties involved. Once agreed – it will form the basis of Phase II during which these areas will be further explored and laid out in the WestMed Initiative and Action Plan.

Results Phase 1 public

We are pleased to announce that the first two reports that were produced during Phase 1 of the project have been officially approved by the EC and are available online.

Report 1: Non paper based on the context analysis
This non-paper is a discussion document that provides both a context analysis and impact assessment.

The objective was to find concrete areas of cooperation and the level of effect this would have. This served as a first step in the process of assessing the need, opportunities and possible pitfalls for building a maritime strategy. This report also served as a basis for the four stakeholder meetings that were held in March 2016.

Report 2: Findings and Recommendations from stakeholders’ involvement
The second report elaborates on the main challenges and opportunities that (building) a maritime initiative would hold for this sea basin. It reflects the thoughts and ideas that emerged from intensive discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders at four different meetings (i.e. ‘Collaborative Labs’) in Rome, Marseille, Tunis and Barcelona.

This report with its findings and recommendations served as a basis for a discussion with the member states on EC level and the decision to move forward with phase 2 of this initiative.

Green light for phase 2

Phase 1 of the project has officially ended in June.

The final reports covering this phase were approved by the European Commission. At the same time it was concluded that there are enough benefits to be gained to move forward into phase 2. Agreement was reached on a, slightly renewed, focus of this initiative and the next steps to be taken.

This means  that the Consortium has started preparations to elaborate on the findings of Phase 1 in order to build a Maritime Action Plan for the Western Mediterranean.

Up until now, involvement of local and regional stakeholders have only been limited in scope. This means that the input provided is indicative but cannot be considered representative for all stakeholders across the sea-basin. Therefore, a more elaborate on- and offline Stakeholder consultation will take place in Phase 2.

For example, a number of online thematic discussions are being planned for through this website. Once available we will gladly further welcome your ideas, thoughts and questions.

Please stay tuned for further developments.

WestMedStrat Twitter account activated

The WestMed strategy project team that develops a maritime strategy for the Western Mediterranean has activated a dedicated project twitter account.

The objective is to share regular updates on the project’s developments with all those people and organisations who are interested in the future of this sea basin.

Our updates will include topics such as alerts on reports, events to be organised, discussions to be started, major milestones and other related items which may be of interest to our followers.

The account will be actively managed for the entire duration of the project by Ecorys in Brussels in close cooperation with the consortium partners Plan Bleu and Strategies Mer et Littoral.

Be the first to know what is happening:

Project website launched

A new project website has been created and launched in close cooperation with web builders Web Design in Tunis

The website has  a different focus at each phase of the project. In phase I (up until April 2016), it will primarily be informative; to provide background information on the project, share the first reports and generate basic interest.

If the decision is made to proceed into Phase II, interactive modules will be added to actively involve the Western- Mediterranean maritime community. People will be invited to share their thoughts and ideas on specific topics in theme-based online forums.

Each forum will build on the outcomes of Phase I where specific opportunities for cooperation have been identified.

The website will remain active for the duration of this project with the option of an extra 3 years after the official end of the project.

Official start of the WestMed Strategy project

On Wednesday, December 16 2015, there was a kick-off meeting between the Executive Agency of the European Commission for SMEs (EASME),  the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the EC (DG MARE) and an Ecorys led consortium with SML and Plan Bleu.

The meeting was also attended by the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission.

A contract was signed which marked the start of a project to develop a maritime strategy for the Western-Mediterranean sea basin. This involves both the South European and Northern African countries bordering that region.

A combination of desk –  and field research will result in identifying several concrete options for so-called cooperation corridors that contain structural promising (economic and environmental) potential and support from key stakeholders.

The project will last 20 months and will be divided into two phases.

In the first phase, the consortium will analyse the existing literature regarding economic, social and environmental challenges and propose options for collaboration to be discussed with the most important parties involved.

In the second phase , a more in-depth analysis of the proposed options will be carried out leading to the drafting of a maritime strategy and action plan for this sea basin.

The project is characterised by a strong participatory  approach. This means that there will be regular on- and offline consultations with relevant stakeholders.

In this context, focus group meetings and events in different locations around the Mediterranean are planned, an interactive website  launched, representatives and institutions consulted and a final conference organised.

During the meeting, Ecorys presented the strengths of the consortium for building the strategy. In particular Ecorys’ experience in project management,  blue growth policies, impact assessments, stakeholder consultations and analysis;  SML’s experience in maritime strategies and governance and Plan Bleu’s experience in the implementation and monitoring of the Barcelona Process in the Mediterranean.