Morocco is a key and very active partner within the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), said Secretary General of this organization, Nasser Kamel in an interview with MAP. “Morocco is a key and very active partner not only within the Union for the Mediterranean but also in other important regional organizations such as the Forum of the two shores and Med 5+5,” said Kamel who highlighted the proactive vision of the Kingdom in international relations. “Morocco is an exemplary country in its way of being, proactive in its international relations. We can cite many examples: it is the first partner country of the southern shore of the Mediterranean in the European research program +Horizon 2020+, and also the first partner country at the African level of the European program Erasmus +,” said the Secretary General of the UfM, recalling that since 2015, almost 10,000 Erasmus+ student and teacher mobilities have been organized between Morocco and the EU, in a wide range of disciplines and different study cycles. “This is also reflected in the strong presence of Morocco in everything the UfM undertakes,” said Nasser Kamel. He recalled that some of the projects in which Morocco is collaborating to improve the Mediterranean region include the restoration and protection of the environment, the restoration of forests, the development of smart cities, in addition to the many initiatives that seek to improve employment opportunities and skills for youth. According to Nasser Kamel, “more than 70% of UfM projects are in partnership with Morocco in one form or another”. Referring to the study on regional integration recently conducted by the UfM, he stressed that the distribution of the intra-regional market is concentrated on the northern shore of the Mediterranean. “The EU is responsible for more than 95% of internal exports of goods and 93% of external exports,” he explained, noting nevertheless, that “the North African sub-region is the fourth main partner for the export of goods, due in particular to the importance of the growing manufacturing sector in Morocco”. Asked about the vision of the UfM to contribute to the resolution of the migration issue in the Mediterranean, Kamel said that this issue “must be addressed in two forms: the urgency of the situation and the human tragedy and over a longer period of time, to address the problems that drive these people to leave”. “The root causes are multiple: climate change, lack of job opportunities for young people, vulnerable populations, etc.. It is to these causes that the Union for the Mediterranean addresses through political dialogue and regional projects,” he said. Regarding the post-Covid 19 recovery and the role of the UfM, Kamel stressed that “the pandemic has revealed weaknesses in our existing socio-economic systems, disrupting global production, supply chains and trade”. He noted, in this context, that the economic consequences are enormous and, as with many crises, with a disproportionate impact on already vulnerable populations, adding that “we must use the pandemic as an opportunity to build back better and initiate structural changes towards more sustainable and socially resilient models, which build on local strengths and ensure national returns for all stakeholders, both private and public”.
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