Ufm: secretary re-launches action plan, 2012 new start

Governments inactive, small steps now, Schulz

08 June, 17:35

(ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, JUNE 8 - A new secretary, a new action plan and a new start of the Union for the Mediterranean in 2012.

The governments are only showing their political will on paper, but the union's secretariat, parliamentary assembly, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank seem to be determined to get results. The new start is based on the action plan and therefore the projects, the only thing that binds the 43 countries together and has a concrete value. This picture emerged from today's meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean Bureau in Brussels, organised by the European Parliament.

''We have a feeling that we are making a new start this year,'' said UFM secretary general Fatallah Sijilmassi, whose main focus is ''to take the projects labelled 'UFM' and make sure they are financed and carried out. We are committed to this goal, and the projects in which most progress has been made are the Maghreb motorway between Casablanca and Tunis, the desalination facility in Gaza and the Logismeta logistic platform, aimed at making the transport of goods in the Mediterranean as competitive as possible for business,'' Sijilmassi continued. The Union for the Mediterranean political vacuum does not necessarily mean the organisation is destined to fail. But the risk is there: according to European Parliament president Martin Schulz, ''the drive to renationalisation'' is getting stronger again, and at the same time ''nowhere in the world is integration as weak as in the south of the Mediterranean area.'' Schulz is currently head of the UFM Parliamentary Assembly. In his eyes, the governments of the 43 Union for the Mediterranean countries ''are doing nothing, therefore someone should take action: we do what we can, taking small steps, are resources are limited. We can focus on some 'beacon projects' and that may not be much, but it's better than nothing.'' Currently no high-level summits have been scheduled, only a forum to promote the dialogue between citizens of both Mediterranean shores. ''it will be a large dialogue forum,'' explained the chairman of the UFM Assembly, ''because what counts most is to let the two shores get to know each other better.'' This ''large conference'' will be held in Marseille in the second half of 2012 or the first half of 2013, and will be organised by the Anna Lindh Foundation. (ANSAmed).

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