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Statement on the EU’s new Agenda for the Mediterranean by German Development Minister Gerd Müller


10.02.2021 |

BRUSSELS / BERLIN – The European Commission yesterday presented its new strategy for the southern Mediterranean, which will be the basis for EU policy for this region for the next seven years. In a statement, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said:

"The COVID-19 pandemic has long become a poly-pandemic, a multiple crisis with severe economic and social consequences. In North Africa alone, 22 million people lost their job over the course of the last year. Even before COVID-19 a third of the young people in the region was out of work. Last year foreign investment in the southern Mediterranean region dropped by 45 per cent. Entire countries, such as for instance Lebanon, are facing national bankruptcy. The lockdowns are now exacerbating the problems. The number of unemployed people in Morocco will, for example, almost double.

We must not allow the COVID-19 crisis to undo years of progress for our neighbours in the Mediterranean. That is why the EU is taking a step in the right direction by promoting training, new jobs and private investment. That is important to quickly overcome the COVID-19 crisis."

The European Union is planning to invest·seven billion euros in the Southern Neighbourhood in the next seven years. It intends to leverage an additional 30 billion euros of mostly private investment.

"This agenda now needs to be filled with life," Müller said. "This also includes a European initiative for fair trade and investment, in particular in the field of renewable energy and agriculture. That is why we need to include an Africa pillar in the EU Green Deal. This will create jobs on both sides."

Background

  • The southern European neighbourhood policy includes the Arab Mediterranean countries plus Jordan and Israel. The EU has also concluded bilateral association agreements with individual countries that govern trade relations.
  • On 12 November 2020, Development Minister Müller together with the Union for the Mediterranean convened a trade and investment forum. The participants from politics, business and society from Europe, the Mediterranean region and Africa called especially for more cooperation and trade and investment policies that create jobs.

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