The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as climate change in the Mediterranean basin, serve as a reminder of the urgency of having a coordinated response from the local and regional authorities at the Mediterranean level.
The opinion will call for the development of a macro-regional strategy in order to enhance the coordination of different strategies, initiatives and funding programmes implemented by all levels of government in the Mediterranean such as the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM) and Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).
Geographically speaking, the strategy will adopt a pragmatic and dynamic approach. It should aim at covering progressively the whole Mediterranean area, starting with voluntary territories and giving the possibility to join to other territories as the strategy evolves.
The opinion will build on the ARLEM report adopted in 2014 "For a cohesion policy for the Mediterranean", which laid the foundations for a macro-regional perspective for the Mediterranean basin. The Council of the EU indicated its readiness to examine joint initiatives aimed at establishing new macro-regional strategies (Council's conclusions of 2/12/2020.13424/20).
The rapporteur organised a workshop on "The Mediterranean: Why we need a Macro-regional Strategy”, on 13 October 2022, during the 2022 European week of regions, to which the European Parliament (MEP Alfonsi), the president of the CPMR (Eleni Marianou) and several EU regions participated.
In his preparation of his opinion, the CoR rapporteur had the opportunity to work and exchange views with the rapporteur of the European Parliament (REGI committee), Mr Alsonfi (REGI/FR), through bilateral meeting, the participation of the EP rapporteur in the CoR and at working level between the respective administrations (COTER, REGI secretariat, EP green political group)
The EP is preparing a report on "The role of Cohesion Policy in addressing multidimensional environmental challenges in the Mediterranean basin"; planned for adoption in EP plenary in REGI committee in March 2023 and in plenary in Spring 2023. The draft EP opinion takes on board 3 important ideas of the CoR opinion:
1) calling for the adoption of a macro-regional strategy under the 2023 Spanish presidency;
2) calling for a central role for the regions in the MRS governance; and
3) stressing the specificity of the islands.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- points out that the Mediterranean area is warming at a 20% faster rate than the global average. The effects of climate change are already highly visible through the proliferation of extreme natural events or water scarcity, affecting food security;
- calls as a first step, for efforts to focus on key challenges - climate change, digital transformation, the environment and humanitarian crisis, as well as the necessary green transition;
- stresses that it is necessary for Mediterranean territories to finally have an operational instrument enabling them to develop and implement a concrete action plan and joint projects in response to common priorities identified in existing frameworks such as the UfM, ARLEM, etc.;
- stresses that the macro-regional strategy (MRS) must incrementally and ultimately cover the three Mediterranean sub-basins (Western, Eastern and Adriatic-Ionian) and pay particular attention to island territories;
- considers that a MRS must be based on a solid and representative multi-level governance scheme involving regional and local authorities as well as their respective associations and euroregions;
- points out that a large amount of funding can be mobilised to support Mediterranean projects, (NDICI, ETC programmes, Horizon Europe, LIFE or Erasmus also open to third countries);
- proposes that, in the short term the European Commission should support the emergence in 2024 of a pilot project on zero marine pollution in the Mediterranean and thus test the key principles of a Mediterranean MRS around a concrete objective;
- calls on the European Council to refer the matter to the European Commission in 2022 to draw up a Mediterranean macro-regional strategy, with a view to its approval under the Spanish Presidency in 2023.