Union for the Mediterranean : Eu Contributes 72 Mn Euro to Med Region

Article excerpt

The European Commission committed, on 10 July, to spending 72 million over 2009 and 2010 on projects in the Mediterranean region. The projects, which were highlighted as priorities at a Union for the Mediterranean summit in Paris last July, will focus on improving the environment, education and the business climate for SMEs.

The EU will set aside 22 million to clean up the Mediterranean Sea and avoid desertification in the region; 7.5 million will go towards connecting railways, ports and sea transport; a Mediterranean solar plant will see 5 million of EU cash and a final 32 million will be donated by the European Investment Bank under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), an instrument set up in 2002 to fund private sector investment.

The Union for the Mediterranean was created on 13 July last year under the French EU Presidency after a revival of the Barcelona Process, and is made up of 43 countries, including all 27 EU member states. It suffered serious setbacks after all meetings were suspended following the war in Gaza - both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are members - and attention has been diverted to domestic affairs during the global financial crisis.

A secretariat to coordinate the UfM's work has still to be set up, and the Commission says it is dedicating part of its 72 million envelope to support the body.

However, the UfM has been criticised by industry group Eurochambres, which said in a press release, on 9 July, that the project was "deadlocked" by political infighting and a lack of financing. …