PARIS – Economic crisis has now reached both shores of the Mediterranean, and the risk of a lasting depression has become very real. Austerity policies in Europe threaten to backfire, causing enduring harm to growth prospects and thus stoking unemployment and budget deficits. And southern Mediterranean countries can’t hope to make up in America and Asia the opportunities and investments that they are losing in Europe, certainly not in the short term.
In these circumstances – and especially in view of the political upheaval in the countries of the southern Mediterranean – re-launching the Euro-Mediterranean process, and putting it on a new footing, would benefit both sides.
The Barcelona Process, which Jacques Delors initiated in 1995 as head of the European Commission, had its merits, but failed to meet the expectations that it created. In 2005, on the 10th anniversary of its launch, I joined political leaders from both sides of the Mediterranean in calling for a re-formulation of the partnership through the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean community.
Such a community has now become an urgent necessity. Europe has technology and provides a secure framework for investment, but it is the southern Mediterranean that increasingly can point to strong economic growth. Europe is aging and will lose 20 million people by 2030, while the southern Mediterranean has a dynamic young population that desperately needs job opportunities.