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Štefan Füle

European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Inauguration of the seat of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

Inauguration Speech

Barcelona, 4 March 2010

Dear President of the Generalitat of Catalunya, dear Ministers, dear Mayor of the city of Barcelona, dear Secretaries-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to be here in Barcelona talking on behalf of the European Commission, in this historic event. Today, after several months of hard work, we celebrate the inauguration of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean. 43 partners representing more than 750 million citizens, and the European institutions representing more than 50 years of regional integration, are here to realise a common dream, a common ambition of regional cooperation.

There are a few interesting similarities between the Union for the Mediterranean and the European Union. Both are processes, processes which enable nation states to cope with their past and to accommodate themselves in a fast-changing globalised world. Both are organisms of diverse cells. Both offer hope for peaceful and secure co-existence.

Like the European Union, the Union for the Mediterranean is a process to enable the Mediterranean to cope with its past comprising not only the most remarkable historic and cultural achievements, but also, tainted with war and confrontation. The Union for the Mediterranean is a major political initiative to cope with the need to build a shared future for Euro-Mediterranean partners.

The setting-up of the Secretariat represents both an opportunity and a hope for the whole region.

It represents an opportunity and a hope for all Mediterranean partners that wish to work together in the promotion and realisation of common projects.

It represents also an opportunity and a hope for Europe keen to see a vast economic area in the south of the Mediterranean, free from fragmentation, becoming a major trade and economic player in the region.

The European Union wants to work with its Mediterranean partners as real partners, to deal with common problems that no individual country can tackle successfully on its own. The European Neighbourhood Policy and the Union for the Mediterranean complement each other in the promotion of an emerging region close to Europe.

I would like to pay tribute to all those who have contributed to the creation of this secretariat and to those who have pushed forward the idea of a Union for the Mediterranean. We have a vision for the future of the region; there is the political will to transform this vision into reality, and now we have a joint institution to implement this vision into concrete projects. This is the great challenge for the Secretariat and for its Secretary General Mr. Ahmed Massadeh.

I wish to state clearly tonight my deep personal belief in having a strong Secretariat for the Union for the Mediterranean. I am grateful to Minister Moratinos that he gave me the opportunity to share this thought with you here in Barcelona at this important moment. This institution will be the keystone of the Union for the Mediterranean. The place where the projects agreed in Paris, and hopefully many other future activities, take shape and deliver results for the benefit of people throughout the region. The focal point working with the private sector and with international financial institutions to promote and support ambitious public-private partnerships. The engine generating the necessary synergies among the stakeholders in the region and developing major regional and transnational projects that can later be endorsed by Heads of State and Government. The place that will promote progress in regional co-operation throughout the Mediterranean – and indeed deliver a stronger regional component for the Southern neighbourhood of Europe.

The Commission has already stated its intention to provide financial support and people to the Secretariat: €3 million have been earmarked for 2010 and a grant contract will be signed as soon as the conditions are met. We also intend to second one official to the Secretariat from the very start. Let me say very clearly that I hope this is only the beginning. We will stand behind the Secretariat as it keeps growing and developing its tasks. And I would be happy to cone here again as our work progresses to commit more of our funds and our people to the daunting endeavour that we are starting today.

Thank you very much.

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