CMI Letter #13, December 2011

Integration at the Heart of the CMI Annual Meeting

The Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) wrapped up its annual meeting on November 29th with over 90 participants endorsing the informal knowledge exchange platform the center provides and welcoming its role in advancing regional integration.

CMI partner countries and organizations gathered to discuss the economic challenges of the Mediterranean region in the wake of the Arab Spring and to determine how CMI programs can remain helpful.

There was general agreement that the multi-partner and multi-dimensional approach had positioned the CMI to respond to issues raised by the Arab Spring. CMI was mandated in September by the Deauville Partnership Finance Ministers with an additional mission this year. If more and better jobs are going to be created for the youth of the region, then the importance of progress in trade and foreign direct investment is essential, CMI was asked to draw on the advice from the region, expertise of the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to coordinate an analytical report, which was also discussed during the CMI Annual Meeting dialogue.

Throughout the CMI’s work and its different clusters, there is a cross-cutting thread addressing the issue of jobs and clearly this is at the center of the region’s priorities,” said Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and chair of the meeting.

Annual meetings participants also heard presentations of the CMI’s think tank role on different regional challenges including skills, employment, and labor mobility (including youth issues); knowledge economy, innovation, and technology; urban and spatial development; environment and water; and transport and logistics. An independent assessment was presented with recommendations on how to build on the center’s strengths and further add to its potential.

“The major transformations under way since the Arab Spring need to be underpinned by specific support for integration,” said CMI Director Mats Karlsson. “This is what the CMI does by working with experts from all the countries, whether in areas of making Arab universities more competitive, giving small enterprises access to innovation and the export value chains or helping cities and local authorities with ways to respond to demands for participation in using resources. Ultimately it is about creating employment and empowering a new generation.”

CMI in its second phase will seek to leverage its unique membership, to leverage knowledge tools, coordinate partnerships, and facilitate dialogue with stakeholders from governments, to youth, to private sector in order to advance regional integration, he said. Consensus was reached on the role of the CMI as an informal platform for converging synergies and dynamics to achieve this result.

Over 90 participants attended the event including private sector representatives, public administration counterparts, journalists, academics, bilateral institutions and donors.

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