Europe

Mediterranean states gather in Barcelona to boost regional integration

Record number of ministers discussing issues like climate crisis, migration, COVID-19 at Union for the Mediterranean forum

Alyssa McMurtry   | 29.11.2021
Mediterranean states gather in Barcelona to boost regional integration EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

OVIEDO, Spain

Representatives from 42 Mediterranean countries gathered in Barcelona on Monday to discuss how to boost peace, prosperity and sustainability in the diverse region.

The Union for the Mediterranean’s sixth regional forum is being chaired by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

“The Mediterranean is a border that separates two worlds with a lot of difference. But we’ve committed to overcoming that and turning the Mediterranean to a meeting place that brings our worlds together,” Borrell said in his opening remarks.

Amid conflicts and inequality in the region, the meeting aims to spur dialogue that leads to increased integration and shared mechanisms for change.

A record number of foreign ministers are participating in the in-person meeting, according to Borrell.

“As of now, the Mediterranean is not economically or ecologically sustainable. There are major gaps that call for urgent reform, integration, solidarity and more cohesion,” said Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares.

Throughout Monday morning, ministers and representatives will discuss key issues like coping with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, increasing trade and opportunities for young people, as well as migration policies and internal conflicts.

One memorandum of understanding has already been signed between the Union for the Mediterranean and the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The three-year agreement aims to strengthen cooperation between Mediterranean and Arab states in supporting women, youth and climate action.

“From the protection of unique maritime ecosystems in Albania to innovative solutions to plastic waste in Turkey … we are committed to safeguarding our natural heritage in the Mediterranean,” said Mirjana Spoljaric Egger of the UNDP.

“The countries of the Mediterranean all share common concerns for the effects of the climate crisis and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the most vulnerable ... This new partnership between UNDP and the Union for the Mediterranean is testimony to our commitment to address these challenges together and endeavor to build back better and greener together.”​​​​​​​

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