The Forum

Following the Summit of the Western Mediterranean Forum, held in Malta on 5-6 October 2012, the Heads of State and Government of France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia mandated the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean to organize the first Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean in Barcelona in 2013.

This Forum will take place on 23 October 2013 at the Pedralbes Palace in Barcelona, with the participation of the Head of the Spanish Government, Mariano Rajoy, and Ministers of foreign affairs of the countries of the Western Mediterranean Forum (commonly referred to as “5+5 Dialogue”).


The meeting is organized by Portugal and Mauritania, as co-presidencies of the 5+5 Dialogue, Spain as host country, and the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed) and Casa Mediterráneo.

The Economic Forum will focus on the economic cooperation of the ten countries of the Western Mediterranean, with the participation of high-level representatives from major enterprises and employers’ associations of Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia.

Topics of discussion

The participants will debate on the following issues.

  • The role of the Western Mediterranean in a global economy: reinforcing the 5+5 economic dialogue. With its numerous socio-economic assets and potential, the Western Mediterranean could play an increasing role in the global economy. The proximity of the markets offers the business community a competitive advantage and helps to forge new regional dynamism. Development projects and partnerships provide untapped opportunities for growth and employment and have a socioeconomic impact that goes beyond national borders. How can regional integration and strengthened economic dialogue in the region boost business in the Mediterranean and cooperation between public and private sector?
  • Strengthening the economic cooperation between Europe, Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa. The economic emergence of Africa has become a reality today. With an expected average growth rate of 4.8% and 5.3%, the outlooks for 2013 and 2014 are promising. A report prepared by the AfDB, the OECD, the Economic Commission for Africa and the UNDP in May 2013 underlined that the agricultural, mining and energy resources in Africa are key to accelerate its growth, thus encouraging foreign investors and local operators to develop closer economic ties. African economies are facing positive paradigmatic shifts and the growing economic opportunities should be transformed into concrete projects. What are the major opportunities for cooperation and partnerships between Europe, Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa?
  • Urban development and public services, SMEs, funding for development and Mediterranean Arbitration. These specific topics will be addressed in parallel roundtables.
    • Public services and sustainable urban development”. Roundtable coordinated by the European Investment Bank (EIB). Urbanisation represents nowadays a challenge for resource and services management in the Mediterranean basin. Demographic pressure, which is foreseen to strengthen in the next twenty years, adds to this challenge. Consequently, sustainable urban development is a major issue and cities have undoubtedly a central role to play in this regard. The services offered contributing to sustainable development in urban areas require the growing involvement of the private sector in order to build and manage key municipal infrastructures and services. This session will address how the urban value chain provided by the private sector across Mediterranean countries could respond to the new challenges posed by urban growth.
    • Small and medium enterprises: boosting business”. Roundtable coordinated by the PIMEC (Association of MSMEs of Catalonia). SMEs represent around 90% of businesses in the region, thus being one of the major actors of job creation. To strengthen their role and performance, several institutions such as the European Commission are developing new strategies and approaches. Advancing in the normative framework to enable SMEs to turn environmental challenges into opportunities; promoting green businesses in market areas such as health, transport, energy and manufacturing; and enhancing access to credit, are among the central issues. The presence of European enterprises in Maghreb countries is growing, and the dynamism of immigrant populations on both sides of the Mediterranean offers an untapped potential. This session will encourage an exchange of views among Mediterranean SMEs’ associations as well as discuss ways to promote the creation of SMEs.
    • Project funding for development”. Roundtable coordinated by the IEMed. (European Institute of the Mediterranean). Financing infrastructure projects, setting up incentives and facilities for SMEs and providing venture capital funds are some of the main priorities of the major IFIs working in the Maghreb. Their experience shows that the mobilisation of funds for productive investments in developing economies requires a stable macroeconomic framework and a favourable regulatory environment. This session is designed to gather representatives from some of the most influential IFIs to discuss the challenges of investing in the Maghreb region in a complex international context.
    • Mediterranean Arbitration”. Roundtable coordinated by Casa Mediterráneo. Modern methods of dispute resolution, as alternatives to the ordinary jurisdiction, particularly arbitration, are an essential element of modern trade and investments. This kind of resolution is useful for both big and small enterprises which, given their characteristics, often lack the infrastructures and resources to deal with transnational litigation. This was recognized by the Final Declaration of the Ministerial Conference “Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”, held in Marseilles on 3rd April 2008, in which the need to promote investments in the Mediterranean area was stated as well as the need to advance on “possible action to improve arbitration procedures in the region” (III “Industrial Cooperation”). Arbitration encourages investors who need the guarantee that, if investment fails, they have recourse to a competent, expert and independent “decision-maker”. Thus, arbitration should be promoted among businessmen, employers’ associations, lawyers and all institutions involved in fostering trade and investment in the Mediterranean in order to advance in the establishment of a more attractive, predictable and sustainable economic and legal environment in the region.