Ipemed palimpsestes N° 11 > The Mediterranean in 2030 : Routes to a better future

- Collectif. Coordonné par Cécile Jolly

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The mediterranean basin has developed a fabric of economic, political and human relations that lend it a definite regional dimension. The raid of the Arabic revolts came to remind that this dynamics could also take the shape of a political convergence. Structurally nevertheless, the Mediterranean integration is highly varied, depending on the country or subregion concerned.

The European Union plays a central role for all Mediterranean countries, which might be members or future members, or have established agreements and privileged economic relationships with it.

Although Latin Europe, the Adriatic countries (Western Balkans), the Middle East and the Maghreb display geographical continuity, from an economic, institutional and socio-cultural point of view, their heterogeneity is obvious.

The Mediterranean is in progress and is the object of political and private investment. The motivation behind such investment might be grounded in economics, politics, citizenship, society, ecology or culture, depending on countries and their inhabitants. But these initiatives all tend to weave closer what history has done and undone, to accelerate the income dynamics of the region and to speed up its global ranking as compared to world economic giants.

This region is subjected to strong uncertainties on its future, whether it is national or collective:

the deepest crisis that Europe has ever known since the 1930s reaches today not only the springs of its recovery but questions its own construction (in particular the economic governance of the Euro zone). This economic and institutional crisis also affects the countries of the Adriatic promised to an integration that the community uncertainties and the starts of the Greek crisis handicap. The Arabic revolts engage a powerful reforming impulse but pull countries into a phase of inevitably long transition which does not exclude backlashes or plunging certain States into a phase of reaction with impacts in terms of stability and economic growth to more or less short term.
Finally, naturally, the regional integration suffers itself from these uncertainties: uncertainty  regarding the growth of the leading economic partner in the region – the European Union; uncertainty regarding the extent of economic and political reforms in both North and South; uncertainty about whether States bordering the Mediterranean are willing to have a common destiny, with Europe struggling to preserve its former solidarity and force of attraction, and Arab solidarity regaining a certain force thanks to its democratic aspirations and its position at the centre of international, and not just Euro-Mediterranean, attention. Although the spotlight is currently on the turbulence upsetting the European Union and the Arab Mediterranean, one way of reducing uncertainty is to get back to the structural trends and envisage the upshots of Euro-Mediterranean growth and long-term regional integration.

At first sight, the diagnosis is not particularly favourable to Mediterranean integration. Income convergence between countries in the Mediterranean basin is not significant. Exchanges of goods and capital have made less progress within the region than with other global trade zones (e.g. emerging countries). The growth of investment flows coming from the Gulf States has strongly influenced the Mediterranean Arab countries towards developing real estate, telecommunications and, to a lesser extent, financial services. The diversification of exchanges of goods and capital could represent an opportunity if it was accompanied by a rise in both quality and technology, resulting in productivity gains that encourage growth and employment.

It is undeniable that the centrifugal dynamics of Europe have not led to a major investment flow (foreign direct investments stagnate at around 2%) sparking off significant technological transfers, nor to industrial joint processing comparable to that organized with Eastern European countries or within emerging Asia.

Southern and Eastern Mediterranean economies have taken advantage of past dynamics of global growth drawn by emerging countries. Yet, the growth of Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries (semc) remains low in comparison with that of the world’s most dynamic geographical areas. Europe’s demographic slowdown and weak productivity gains mean that it has entered into a low-level zone. In 2030, India and China’s 3 billion, representing 25% of global gdp, compared with 12% today and only 3% in 1990. This shift in the world economy brings with it brand-new market opportunities as well as the possibility of global income convergence and an exit from poverty. But it also brings the risk of marginalizing the least dynamic regions. The Mediterranean region could thus be confronted with a weakening of its capacity to influence international regulations that will affect its future as economies continue to look outwards.

China and America’s handling of an exit from the crisis indicates a move away from multipolarity.

This domination of States continents and emerging markets could have the effect of imposing a more unequal and less protective social model on the Mediterranean region, in the race to be themost attractive. The consequence would be to maintain low work conditions in the South and accentuate labour market duality and fears of outsourcing in the North. Although emerging countries’ economic power will equal that of advanced countries by 2030, income per inhabitant will not experience the same progression: they will be rich as a whole, but individually poor, thus increasing the global workforce competition.

Authors :

Coordinated by Cécile Jolly, Analyst, Centre d’analyse stratégique (CAS). Collaborated : Frédéric Blanc, Delegate general, Femise Philippe Fargues, Director, Migration Policy Centre at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. Giambattista Salinari, Research assistant, Migration Policy Centre at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute. Houda Ben Jannet Allal, Strategy Director, Observatoire Méditerranéen de l’Energie (OME). Vincent Dollé, Director of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Montpellier/International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM/IAMM)

C O N T E N T S :

  • A region in progress
  • Regional synergies to enhance
  • Taking up common challenges
  • Possible scenarios for the future
  • Nine recommendations to promote convergence
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