Commission brings together Western Mediterranean countries to strengthen co-operation to promote the maritime economy in the region

For the first time, under the initiative of the European Commission, Western Mediterranean countries from both shores of the basin have gathered and agreed on developing a sustainable blue economy in the region. The Ministers of the Western Mediterranean met in Naples, Italy, to endorse and launch the Initiative for the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean. This will contribute to underpinning political stability and economic certainty. The informal meeting culminated with the adoption of a declaration signed by the ten participating countries: Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said, “The Ministerial declaration adopted today bears witness to the countries’ political will to foster sustainable growth in the WestMed region. If we want a safe and clean Mediterranean sea, we need to join efforts. If we want to generate jobs and have a sound and sustainable blue economy, we must all work in the same direction. It is great to see that both the EU and our Southern partner countries and neighbours are buying into the initiative with equal conviction.” In parallel to the WestMed Ministerial Meeting, 400 participants from 30 Mediterranean countries representing national, regional and local authorities, the private sector, international organisations, academia and civil society organisations gathered for the Union for the Mediterranean Stakeholder Conference on the Blue Economy. Stakeholders discussed opportunities and challenges for blue economy sectors in the Mediterranean, and ways to stimulate the economy and create jobs. At the end of the conference, the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM-FAO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on sustainable fisheries.