Regional Integration in the Mediterranean - Impact and Limits of Community and Bilateral Policies

25-04-2014

The economic integration of the south and east Mediterranean partner countries with Europe has made very little progress, just as relations between them are not showing signs of development. The immediate periphery of the Union has not yet become a dynamic area of trade with Europe, and Community aid, which is focused on the commercial aspects, has not managed to stimulate sufficient economic growth in its neighbours to absorb new entrants on to the labour market. This lack of regional economic dynamism is in contrast with the intensity of human relations which has developed over a long period due to the presence of an essentially North African and Turkish diaspora in Europe and the North-South tourist traffic to the Mediterranean, which are undervalued. While the Arab revolutions are a reminder that the movement of ideas and people goes hand in hand with a greater homogeneity of lifestyles and aspirations from a democratic and social viewpoint, little has been done in a Euro- Mediterranean context to encourage this movement, particularly from a social and political standpoint. We should therefore redirect the priorities of European aid from a commercial emphasis to a truly industrial policy and set out a politicial and social priority for the region.

The economic integration of the south and east Mediterranean partner countries with Europe has made very little progress, just as relations between them are not showing signs of development. The immediate periphery of the Union has not yet become a dynamic area of trade with Europe, and Community aid, which is focused on the commercial aspects, has not managed to stimulate sufficient economic growth in its neighbours to absorb new entrants on to the labour market. This lack of regional economic dynamism is in contrast with the intensity of human relations which has developed over a long period due to the presence of an essentially North African and Turkish diaspora in Europe and the North-South tourist traffic to the Mediterranean, which are undervalued. While the Arab revolutions are a reminder that the movement of ideas and people goes hand in hand with a greater homogeneity of lifestyles and aspirations from a democratic and social viewpoint, little has been done in a Euro- Mediterranean context to encourage this movement, particularly from a social and political standpoint. We should therefore redirect the priorities of European aid from a commercial emphasis to a truly industrial policy and set out a politicial and social priority for the region.