The EU has invested considerably in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) including by assuming the co-Presidency in 2012, thus allowing for more dynamic and coordinated political exchanges and better articulation of activities with EU sector policies and programmes.
An EU operating grant covers 50% of the UfM Secretariat costs and the Commission seconds an official to the UfM Secretariat to improve and develop the relationship between the organisations, with a focus on cooperation and new projects.
The EU regularly mobilises European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) grant funding for UfM-labelled projects. The European Neighbourhood Policy’s (ENP) regional allocation for the Southern Neighbourhood averages EUR 100 million per year. The actions financed are not only multi-country programmes but are complementary to bilateral actions.
In 2016, the EU prepared the ‘EU Initiative for Financial Inclusion’, consisting of five complementary regional facilities to expand financing to Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). By pooling resources between EU grants and European Financial Institutions’ soft loans, more than EUR 1.6 billion in new financing for MSMEs will be mobilised by the EU for the 2017-2020 period.
To support investments in the Neighbourhood and in Africa, the Commission has proposed the External Investment Plan(1). A key innovative element consists of a guarantee which aims to mobilise the private sector as an investor, reducing investment risks.
At the UfM Regional Forum on ‘Youth for Stability and Development’ in January 2017, youth representatives asked that ‘youth’ is not to be considered as a sector but as a cross-cutting issue to be included in all initiatives. The Commission is eager to ensure that this is the case.