The Med is an exciting growth point, and the EU recognises the opportunity to boost trade and investment, and to bring an additional 264 million consumers into the European marketplace.
The EU’s Barcelona Process, launched back in 1995, sought to foster development co-operation across the area. Thankfully, this initiative was revamped through the EU for the Mediterranean Paris Summit of July last year, which put Euro-Med co-operation higher up the agenda.
It was also given a strong push by president Nicholas Sarkozy when France was in the EU driving seat.
While there seems to be an army of different national and regional government agencies involved in Euro-Med joint working groups, policy papers, conferences and other talking shops, the most powerful testimonial for the Euro-Med project is the growing list of entrepreneurs who are working across the Mediterranean. FDI into the Med has increased fivefold from the early 2000s. Examples include a German software company providing testing services from its Cairo subsidiary; a Finnish network security firm operating from Tunisia;
A French telecoms company using Jordan as its R&D hub; a Czech pharmaceutical company manufacturing in Turkey; a Scandinavian food company joint venturing in Lebanon; and an Estonian energy company assisting oil shale electricity and liquid-fuels production in Jordan.
All of these European companies are benefiting from access to the Med’s natural resources and its thirst for urban, energy and transport infrastructure development.
Euro-Med is definitely the hot story in terms of business development activity and opportunity.
Douglas Clark is director of Tenon techlocate, a site search and location marketing consultancy, which is part of the Tenon Group plc, a top 10 firm of accountants and business advisers.