#Arlem – Euro-Mediterranean meeting in Seville

| March 7, 2019

The Spanish city of Seville, capital of the region of Andalucia, hosted the 10th annual meeting of the  European Committee of the Regions (CoR) Regional and Local Euro-Mediterranean Assembly (ARLEM), February 26-27. Gathering 100 participants from 19 country members of the Euro-Mediterranean region, the plenary session opened in the sumptuous and emblematic Alcazar Palace.

Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) said: “The work of the Euro-Mediterranean Local and Regional Assembly is extraordinarily important. The Assembly represents the people of the Euro-Mediterranean region, more than 800 million citizens who need our engagement and commitment to the promotion of dialogue and cooperation.”

“As the territorial dimension of the Union for the Mediterranean, ARLEM must contribute to defining the priorities and enhancing the visibility of the work and activities we undertake, bringing the Euro-Mediterranean partnership closer to the interests and expectations of its citizens.”

Nasser Kamel presented ARLEM members with an overview of the activities, initiatives and projects developed and supported by the UfM in many areas relevant to the municipal and regional authorities such as sustainable urban development policies, water management or energy transition.

Other ARLEM participants included Mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas and President of the Junta de Andalucia, Juan Manuel Moreno. Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Mouhamed Boudra Mayor of Al Hoceima (represented) are current co-chairs of ARLEM. In the same time, Luca Jahier – EESC President was also present at this event, as well as Jean-Pierre Elong-Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).

One report adopted on youth entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean region  –  rapporteur Olgierd Geblewicz, President of Westpomerania Region, Poland  –  called for the strengthening of programmes that support youth entrepreneurship, such as MedUP!, Med4jobs and Next Society, to promote economic development on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. The EU, the report says, should initiate schemes to give young entrepreneurs from North Africa and the Middle East the opportunity to receive training from experienced entrepreneurs in one of the 28 EU Member States.

The Secretary General participated in the ceremony of the first ARLEM Local Entrepreneurship Award, support young innovative entrepreneurs in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The jury awarded the prize to fashion design company “Zimni Jdeed”, an inspiring new business launched in Tripoli by young Libyan entrepreneurs, Ali and Najway Shukri.

Another report on Governance and Transparency Mediterranean region – rapporteur Lüftü Savas, Mayor of Hatay, Turkey – was adopted.

“Local authorities benefit from significant public funds and competences, which is why their action must be subject to control,” said Vice-President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Xavier Cadoret.

“Serving our citizens must be the sole driving force behind the action of public authorities, whether national, regional or local,” he said, adding that such action is “more effective when conducted in a transparent, participatory and accountable manner.”

Migration in the Mediterranean was also high on the agenda. Two working groups debated current issues. It was an opportunity for panelists to focus on the role that cities and regions can play in managing migration flows and how to regulate these flows.

The discussions looked at aspects not always covered by the experts. These include the reception and integration of migrants. In this area, Andalusia has produced a road map, an approach that was cited as an example during the debates. Participants also reflected on the schooling of children of immigrants and other unaccompanied minors and the social inclusion of migrants and their access to the labor market as well as the care of their children and health.

Speakers underlined the important role of decentralized cooperation with the need for greater involvement of the African Diaspora in finding solutions to the migration crisis, a crisis that remains a concern both in the Euro-Mediterranean but also in the African continent.

ARLEM participants visited ‘La Cartuja’, a Business Park in Seville gathering 450 companies and 17,000 employees. Mayor Juan Espadas said: “The city council has deployed new competencies to tackle unemployment, focusing on youth training and improving their employability. Seville has great human capital. Entrepreneurship is in our city’s DNA. That is why I am particularly gratified that the first ceremony of the ARLEM award to young entrepreneurs is taking place in our city.”

Delegations also visited the Three Cultures of the Mediterranean Foundation whose vocation is to promote dialogue, peace and coexistence between peoples and cultures, throughout the Mediterranean basin, but with an openness to the rest of the world ■


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