High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, chaired today the third EU-Southern Neighbourhood Ministerial Meeting in Barcelona, in which Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, also participated. The meeting was an opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean adopted in February, as well as the Economic and Investment Plan for the region, as part of the strategy for a Renewed Partnership. Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares hosted the Ministerial meeting.
The meeting, which brought together Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU and the Southern Neighbourhood region, focused on the need to boost sustainable economic and human development and building more inclusive and equal societies to reduce the gaps between both shores of the Mediterranean. Ministers exchanged on the need to create economic opportunities, especially for the young people, and on ways to work together on resolving conflicts in the region and regulating migration. Discussions also focussed on the need to accelerate the green economic transition and to “build back better” in the context of the post-corona recovery and the Glasgow Climate Pact.
High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, said: “Our aim is to move forward the common agenda in our priority areas and to further exploit the opportunities of our partnership. We need to close the economic and social gap between the two shores, the Mediterranean has to be a place of shared progress. For our mutual benefit, we need to strengthen our cooperation, improve living conditions and economic opportunities, and build a common future together. In this context, the green economic transition and moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is as much an existential necessity as it is an opportunity for economic diversification and growth on both shores of the Mediterranean.”
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, added: “Last year, we reflected on the lessons learned 25 years after the Barcelona Declaration and laid the foundations for a new Agenda for the Mediterranean. Our common objective: to create a common area of prosperity and stability where people can thrive. The Economic and Investment Plan will help spur long-term socio-economic recovery, create economic growth and jobs, support investment in human capitals. Now, it is time for implementation.”
Ministers reaffirmed that a strengthened Mediterranean partnership remains a strategic imperative. High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Várhelyi reconfirmed the EU’s readiness to support partners to reap all the benefits from investing into the transition towards a resilient, inclusive and climate neutral future. They also stressed the tremendous opportunity that this transition represents for growth, job creation and for building a stronger, more equal, prosperous and stable region.
The meeting was an opportunity to keep the momentum on climate action high on the political agenda, following the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial meeting on Environment and Climate Action held in October, the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), and to pave the way for COP 27 in Egypt next year. The Mediterranean is one of the main climate change hotspots, warming 20% faster than the rest of the world and already causing major distress to societies on both shores.