The President of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association – EMEA, Prof. Rym Ayadi, participated at the seminar “Development Cooperation in the Mediterranean: Trends and Challenges for the Near Future” which was organised by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and the Spanish Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) on 24-25 April 2023 in Madrid, Spain.
The seminar analysed the regional dimension of current global challenges in a changing Mediterranean, and the areas of cooperation that could be more relevant based on current realities. The event aimed to reassess AECID’s strategy in the region, mainly based on its MASAR program, and adapt it to the new regional environment. The event opened with welcome speeches by Senén Florensa, Executive President, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and member of EMEA Advisory Board, and Irene Lozano, Director, Casa Árabe.
Prof. Ayadi participated in the session “Geopolitical Scenarios” along with Alberto Ucelay, Director General for the Maghreb, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Government of Spain, Birgit Loeser, Head of Division Regional Affairs – MENA 1., European External Action Service (EEAS), and Julien Barnes-Dacey, Director of the Middle East and North Africa programme, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). The session was moderated by Roger Albinyana, Managing Director, European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and member of EMEA Advisory Board.
Prof. Ayadi discussed about how can future geopolitical scenarios impact the development path of MENA countries and to what extent regional cooperation can help address critical development challenges in a context of exacerbated geopolitical competition.
At her intervention Prof Ayadi highlighted:
Looking at the prospects of regional cooperation and integration between the Middle East and North African (MENA) Countries with the EU, several factors will come into play to define more resilient models and processes:
- the role of digitalisation and artificial intelligence and consequences on the future of work and jobs ;
- alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
- regional value chains and the importance of proximity of the EU with the Middle East and Africa (MEA);
- acceleration of the development of green energy sources (renewables) after the agreement of G7 this month to phase out of unabated fossil fuel to achieve net zero by 2050 (although not yet an agreement on coal); and
- new models for financing sustainable development based on guarantees as proposed at the T20 Indonesia Policy Brief “A proposal for a blended financing framework for recovery and accelerated sustainable transition” (Rym Ayadi, August 2022)
The EU has to reset its partnership with its neighbours in view of mounting geopolitical and geo-economic competition, at the risk to become an obsolete regional actor. To mainly focus on economic and financial cooperation and role of private sector.
The EU has to reset its partnership with its neighbours in view of mounting geopolitical competition, at the risk to become obsolete regional actor.1 To mainly focus on economic and financial cooperation as was forcefully put in a book published last
March at the flagship event of CEPS in Brussels.2
In a nutshell:
The EU might start extending the green deal to its neighbours, and design a mutually agreed finance deal – including a stabilisation pillar and a sustainable financial pillar with guarantees and other types of blended financing to reduce financing costs, plus a credible investment plan for development infrastructure
- A first step would be to encourage the channeling of the SDR (Special Drawing Rights) to the Middle East and African countries, and to develop new financing mechanisms to ensure the economic and financial stability and sustainability of these countries.
- A second step would be to engage the private sector to accompany this development and increase the pools of financing and investment to the region.
- The Spanish Presidency of the EU has a decisive role to play in the upcoming months mainly to engage with the Middle East and African region to better manage the expectations, value and cost for all countries.
1The EU-Africa partnership and development aid: Assessing the EU’s actorness and effectiveness in development policy – CEPS, April 2024. Authors: Rym Ayadi, Sara Ronco
2Europe after the War – CEPS, February 2022. Authors: Rym Ayadi, Paolo Garonna, Goran Svilanovic