Füle: UfM Secretariat an opportunity and a hope for the whole region
The new Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) represents both an opportunity and a hope for the whole region, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle has said at its inauguration in Barcelona.
“Today, after several months of hard work, we celebrate the inauguration of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean,” he said in a speech: “43 partners representing more than 750 million citizens, and the European institutions representing more than 50 years of regional integration, are here to realise a common dream, a common ambition of regional cooperation.”
The Commissioner said the UfM represented “an opportunity and a hope for Europe keen to see a vast economic area in the south of the Mediterranean, free from fragmentation, becoming a major trade and economic player in the region.”
“The European Union wants to work with its Mediterranean partners as real partners, to deal with common problems that no individual country can tackle successfully on its own. The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean complement each other in the promotion of an emerging region close to Europe.”
Füle said the Secretariat would be the keystone of the Union for the Mediterranean: “The place where projects… take shape and deliver results for the benefit of people throughout the region. The focal point working with the private sector and with international financial institutions to promote and support ambitious public-private partnerships. The engine generating the necessary synergies among the stakeholders in the region and developing major regional and transnational projects that can later be endorsed by Heads of State and Government. The place that will promote progress in regional co-operation throughout the Mediterranean – and indeed deliver a stronger regional component for the Southern neighbourhood of Europe.”
The Commission has already stated its intention to provide financial support and people to the Secretariat: €3 million have been earmarked for 2010 and a grant contract will be signed as soon as the conditions are met. Füle said the Commission intended to second an official to the Secretariat from the very start. (ENPI Info Centre