Building a fair and prosperous space on the two shores of Mediterranean

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

MEP Enrique Guerrero: "It is crucial for our political family, on both shores of the Mediterranean, to be the frontrunner of a proactive progressive solidarity-driven agenda." [European Parliament/Flickr]

Economic development, migration flows, social justice and cohesion, radicalisation and terrorist threats, democratic transition, and rule of law – the challenges facing the Euro-Mediterranean region are numerous and growing, writes MEP Enrique Guerrero Salom.

Enrique Guerrero Salom is a Spanish MEP from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. This opinion is published ahead of the “Addressing the main challenges of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation: a progressive agenda” conference in the European Parliament on 27-28 June.

Fostering democratic consolidation and promoting fair and shared prosperity – these are the objectives of our political family, the Socialists and Democrats, in the region and beyond. This should not be overlooked, as it is too often the case in relations with our Southern partners, because of the urgency to cope with massive arrivals of migrants and with the rising threat of terrorist attacks.

Sharing the same cultural roots and history, we – the North and South Mediterranean – also share the same challenges and entwined future. We strongly reject the far right “us and them” rhetoric and intend instead to build a “we” agenda, with all countries on the Southern Mediterranean shore.

Economic development, migration flows, social cohesion and justice, fight against terrorism and radicalisation, democracy building and rule of law are all challenges that we must face and tackle together.

As progressives, and as Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, we intend to invest in a mutual cooperation, in a concrete and deep dialogue in order to reinforce democracy, the rule of law, the respect of the fundamental human rights, and to create the conditions to boost the economy through fair growth and sustainable development.

Having this goal and this approach clearly in mind, we are organising a two-day conference, which will gather progressive parties, MPs, trade unions and civil society organisations from the EU and from Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

With them, we intend to build a progressive joint Mediterranean agenda.

  • A shared agenda which would articulate the ability to offer people decent economic opportunities, strong social protection and future-oriented jobs, with the consolidation of the rule of law.
  • A shared agenda which would promote stable democracies, quality jobs for all, fair growth that benefits the most, green and sustainable growth and opportunities for the youth.
  • A shared agenda which would jointly address the migration challenge unfolding at sea.
  • A shared agenda which would tackle the root causes of radicalisation and prevent terrorist threats.

The Arab Springs demonstrated the need and the will for change. First and foremost, with the governance of the State. As progressives, it must be our priority to reinforce democracy, State building and public administration capacity, ensuring at the same time free elections, rule of law and human rights.

There are still widespread limitations to the freedom of expression, media and to the respect of the political or judicial rights in some Mediterranean countries.

We believe that the European Union should invest more in capacity-building for the Southern Mediterranean shore countries, to build a solid democracy with strong institutions, with an efficient public administration, low level of corruption and a strong civil society that could turn out to be a crucial tool to strengthen the process toward a truly democratic State.

This is the pre-condition to further economic development and strong social cohesion.

At the same time, we, progressives, also want to create conditions for a fair, just, decent and sustainable work. The young people of the region are too often faced with no other options than to leave their home because of the lack of work, because of unacceptable working conditions in terms of salary, social and healthcare, but also because of the lack of rights and opportunities.

This is especially true for women whose access to work is still limited and discriminated. Here, tools already in place in the EU, such as the European Youth Guarantee, could be a good example of how to invest in education, the young generation and rights’ awareness, and could be used as the best practice.

Last but not least, the fight against terrorism and radicalisation is certainly a common challenge we have to face together. In the short term, the EU and the countries of the region should reinforce their cooperation at the judiciary and intelligence level.

At the state level, the exchange of news and information, the fight against cyber-terrorism, drug trade and money laundering, and security at borders should also be reinforced. This being said, we strongly consider that education, good governance, democracy, fair growth and decent working conditions are the most powerful weapons we have in the long term against terrorism and criminality in general.

It is crucial for our political family, on both shores of the Mediterranean, to be the frontrunner of a proactive, solidarity-driven agenda. We have to be the agenda-setters, strongly rooted in our progressive values, and not let the urgencies and crises be the unique policy drivers.

Ahead of the European elections, together with our partners from the Southern bank, we will co-build a progressive roadmap based on sharing, cooperation and dialogue, in order to make the Mediterranean a fair, prosperous and sustainable space for peace and solidarity.

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