The WestMED Initiative – Your portal to blue growth opportunities in the western Mediterranean

The western Mediterranean: 10 countries, over 200 ports and terminals, 200 million overnight tourist stays in coastal areas, 700 million freight tons, 36 000 direct jobs on fishing vessels and 481 protected marine areas.

In order to harness the full potential of the blue economy in this region, achieve a smarter and more resilient blue economy, and ensure a safer, more secure and better-governed maritime space, stronger cooperation between all stakeholders is required.

The WestMED Initiative has been created to help public institutions, academia, local communities, small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs from both sides of the Western Mediterranean develop local and regional maritime projects together.

The initiative focuses on local and regional challenges, provides knowledge on the blue economy, shares opportunities in the region with the WestMED Community, helps match stakeholders with the right partners, and supports them in developing successful projects.

Although the initiative focuses on the western Mediterranean region and the 10 countries that constitute the 5+5 Dialogue (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malta and five Southern partner countries – Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), its scope of action and potential benefits could easily extend beyond this sub-basin. Therefore, depending on the needs to be addressed and on the willingness to cooperate, actions may involve partners in the whole  Mediterranean  while remaining open to others.

The Framework for Action – Building multiplier effects for local development

A Framework for Action for the initiative[1] lays out the steps to achieve the initiative’s goals and priorities. The Framework for Action was drafted and endorsed  following an extensive, bottom-up consultation process, involving a wide range of stakeholders from the region: international, national, regional and local authorities, the private sector, academia and civil society.

The main goals are:

  • a safer and more secure maritime space;
  • a smart and resilient blue economy;
  • improved maritime governance.

A number of priorities and targeted actions have been set for each goal. Relevant projects will be submitted for funding to calls launched  by existing international, EU, national and regional funding and financial instruments. This should create leverage and attract funding from other public and private investors.

[1] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52017SC0130

Governance Structure – Supporting a vibrant community response to growing diversity and complexity

The western Mediterranean Steering Committee (WMSC)

The western Mediterranean Steering Committee (WestMED Steering Committee or WMSC) provides high-level stewardship for the implementation of the Framework for Action. It ensures operational coordination, provides guidance and necessary support to ensure the initiative’s expected results are achieved, and monitors its implementation. The WMSC is supported by technical working groups, which are comprised of representatives with technical expertise designated by the participating countries.

The WestMED Steering Committee includes national coordinators from the relevant ministries from participating countries (except Libya), the European Commission and the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat, as well as observers from International Organizations and financial institutions.

The WestMED  Assistance Mechanism

The WestMED Assistance Mechanism supports participating  countries with improving their policy framework conditions that enable investment and attract business, hence contributing to increased business activity in the blue economy sector.

The focus is on creating more local and regional opportunities, and on providing the WestMED Community with expertise on the blue economy, sharing opportunities in the region, matching stakeholders with the right partners, supporting them in developing successful projects, and monitoring funding and projects.

The Assistance Mechanism works closely with the western Mediterranean Steering Committee (WMSC) and its Technical Working Groups by offering operational, logistical and administrative support. Support may also include the drafting of working documents and the revision of the Framework for Action, including definition and quantification of targets, indicators and baselines.

The National Hubs

Within the WestMED Assistance Mechanism, 9 National Hubs have been set up (one in each respective country- Algeria, France, Italy, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, and Tunisia) to consider and address local priorities. National Hubs are teams of national experts with an extensive network and solid knowledge of funding opportunities, who can identify areas of high potential and help develop project ideas. National Hubs offer confidential and tailored guidance on project development, funding opportunities and partner matchmaking.

Background

The WestMED initiative is the result of years of dialogue between ten countries in the western Mediterranean region involved in the ‘5+5 Dialogue’: five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five Southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia). These countries are ready and willing to work together on their shared interests for the region: to increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

The WestMED follows up on the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Declaration on the Blue Economy[1] endorsed by the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) which took place on the 17 November 2015, inviting the participating countries to explore the added value and feasibility of appropriate maritime strategies at sub-regional level, and build on the experience of the 5+5 Dialogue.

In October 2016, Foreign Affairs Ministers from Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia encouraged further work on an initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy, alongside the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat. The Initiative is based on the European Commission’s long-standing experience with sea basin and macro-regional strategies (such as the Atlantic Strategy, the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region). It also builds on other EU policies linked to the region, such as the European Neighbourhood Policy Review priorities and the recent Communication on International Negotiations in the western Mediterranean.

The Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean region was adopted by the European Commission on 19 April 2017[2] and endorsed by the Council of the EU on 26 June 2017. In its Conclusions[3] on Blue Growth, the Council of the EU has also invited the participating countries, the European Commission and the Union for Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat to take forward its implementation in coherence with all the other initiatives, which are taking place in the region.

In drafting this initiative, the European Commission emphasized the importance of involving all relevant actors and stakeholders to ensure that all their interests and concerns are duly taken into account, so as to provide every possible opportunity for coordination and cooperation. Actors and stakeholders were involved through a series of communication initiatives ranging from stakeholder meetings on both sides of the western Mediterranean, to newsletters, social media, a dedicated website and a large-scale conference.

[1] http://ufmsecretariat.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/2015-11-17-declaration-on-blue-economy_en.pdf

[2] COM(2017)183 final https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/sites/maritimeaffairs/files/com-2017-183_en.pdf

[3] http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10662-2017-INIT/en/pdf