NEXTMED: cooperation continues but not 'business as usual'

ENPI becomes ENI, Med calls for greater attention from EU

12 December, 19:48

    ENI's new projects to meet needs and problems of partner nations ENI's new projects to meet needs and problems of partner nations

    (by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSAmed) - ROME, DECEMBER 12 - The program will bear a new name but retain its multilateral, participative approach to Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, an approach that goes beyond bilateral cooperation between the EU and governments receiving resources. The approach brings together more countries between the northern and southern Mediterranean, as well as more institutional and civil society bodies in order to foster wider-ranging effects of the funds invested, while making extensive use of technology, best practices and skills. The Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme (ENPI CBC MED Programme) - part of the European Neighbourhood Policy and of its financing instrument, the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) - will in its new incarnation retain the practice of using an 'Brussels acronym'. The new ENI CBC intends to focus on projects meeting the shared needs and problems of partner nations under the same Joint Managing Authority, the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. As part of the first program, for example, Egypt, France, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Tunisia implemented the Green Med Initiative Project, considered one of the largest successes by the Cagliari office. As part of the project, 160 machines were installed in schools for plastic recycling that give receipts and prizes to the most hardworking. About 20 million tons of bottles and cans are expected to be thus saved from going to waste, while at the same time involving about 10,000 youths in environmental education. The Foster in Med project - in which Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Spain, and Tunisia are taking part - is instead to raise knowledge about the best technological solutions for photovoltaic panels on public buildings, with participation by universities, public authorities and private businesses. Aims include to teach skills that will later spread more widely and the installation of panels compatible with urban design. In the field of technology applied to cultural heritage, there is also the 3D video of 'I AM', which recreates the old port of the medieval citadel of Byblos in Lebanon.

    These are some of the approximately 20 projects that have achieved excellent results. Another about forty are expected to do the same and about ten have yet to be fully implemented in the four fields of the program, which also includes economic and social development and the promotion of cultural dialogue and good practices in local government. There are projects that have not worked, ones stalled by instability in countries suffering from conflict, terrorism, refugees and political instability affecting the southern Mediterranean, from Gaza to Lebanon to Egypt. The latter is nonetheless taking part in about a third of the projects. ''We of course can't pretend that it is just 'business as usual', '' said former Egyptian ambassador to Italy Nehad Abdel Latif, who has been part of ENPI since it began. ''We should keep in mind that there are countries like Russia, India and Iran looking towards us, but we are neighbors in the Mediterranean with complementary interests.'' This, he said, is unfortunately not taken into account in EU policies. The former ambassador nevertheless reserved praise for ENPI-ENI. Renato Soru, currently an MP in the European Parliament but formerly Sardinia governor and also involved in the program, noted that ''Europe has shifted its center of gravity north, but must rediscover the reasons for its foundation: the desire to end all wars, a project that it must work on in the Mediterranean.'' Speakers included Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretary General Fathallah Sijilmassi, the parliamentary secretary for the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017 Ian Borg and Spanish ambassador Gabriel Busquet. The program objectives and strategy for the 2014-2020 period were presented by the director general of the Joint Managing Authority of the program, Anna Catte. (ANSAmed).

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