Mediterranean Regions must unite to tackle challenges

1 September 2016

The CPMR Intermediterranean Commission (IMC) has stated that Regions have a key role to play in rebuilding the European Union and developing a better Europe and Mediterranean for citizens.
The IMC, which brings together political representatives from 44 Regions in the Mediterranean, held its General Assembly on 1st July in Venice, Italy. The meeting focused on key issues including Security and Migration, Neighbourhood Policy and Territorial Integrated Development, EU Cohesion Policy, Growth and Maritime priorities for the emerging strategies and initiatives in the EU and MED areas (e.g. EUSAIR and West Med), and Climate Change related issues (e.g. MedCOP 22, water and energy etc.).
At the meeting, Apostolos Katsifaras, President of the West Greece Region, was elected as the new President of the Intermediterranean Commission. He said that the Mediterranean represents the heritage of all its Regions and they must together commit to strategic projects to address major challenges such as the migration crisis and climate change and boost emerging sectors in the frame of the Blue economy, while preserving the environment.
Regarding Security and Migration challenges, IMC noted that the migration issue is far being from solved and called again for the EU and national institutions to look at long term strategic and multilevel processes to receive and integrate migrants, more efficient management of migration flows, and the gradual adaptation to these pressing issues of territorial cooperation programmes operating in the Mediterranean and the future EU Cohesion policy.
Speaking at the Assembly, Roberto Ciambetti, President of the Veneto Regional Council, said: “The issue of immigration and security are regarded by public opinion and the political forces in Europe as a priority, but there has been a negative reaction from citizens in certain Member States because the EU actions have either been delayed, limited or weak.”
Regarding Cohesion Policy, CPMR Secretary General, Eleni Marianou, said that the latest regional development statistics show rising levels of disparities between regions in Europe, with many regions in the Mediterranean falling behind the European average. IMC members warned that the European Fund for Strategic Investment will leave some EU territories behind, and called for stronger support from the EU Cohesion Policy to tackle regional disparities in the post-2020 period.
In May 2016 the CPMR IMC was accepted as a permanent observer by the Working Group on Blue Economy of the Union for the Mediterranean. The IMC will support the UfM cooperation on these issues for the whole of the Mediterranean, bringing its regional and maritime expertise by supporting initiatives such as the Bologna Charter on the sustainable development of coastal areas, or the joint CPMR work on maritime investments.
Finally, the General Assembly also offered the IMC the opportunity to strengthen its relationships with other important networks, such as MedCities (with the signing of a specific Memorandum of Understanding).
The Final Declaration of the Intermediterranean Commission General Assembly is available here.
A short report for the Italian television (RAI) is available on Youtube.

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