The democratic reforms underway in the south and east of the Mediterranean must be carried out by strong parliaments equipped with adequate human resources and infrastructure, said members of the 9th Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean, held in Brussels on 11 and 12 April 2013. They also called for better representation of women in elected institutions.

parliamentary assembly union for the Mediterranean

parliamentary assembly union for the Mediterranean

EP President Martin Schulz regretted the lack of interest of governments on both sides of the Mediterranean. “If parliaments are the new source of legitimacy in a transformed Arab world, then the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean must be the new source of legitimacy at the base of revamped Euro-Mediterranean relations”, he said.

“Parliamentary dialogue and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean are among the best tools to build confidence and to give impetus and legitimacy to tangible projects ranging from women in leadership to water management, from energy cooperation to institution building,” President Schulz added.

The president also called for “greater support for the tremendous work being done by neighbours of Syria to confront the humanitarian and security crisis.”

Strong parliaments, with more women

The democratic transformation under way “offers an historic opportunity to bring public policies back into line with people’s needs”, parliamentarians said in a recommendation passed on Friday. It is up to democratically elected parliaments, which must be financially autonomous, to meet citizens’ aspirations to live in dignity, under the rule of law guaranteeing their freedom and their rights, they underlined.

Members also asked for the full representation of women on electoral lists and in parliamentary bodies. To achieve parity in the most important decision-making positions, both at parliamentary and government level, they called for the progressive implementation of quotas or other forms of positive action, matched, if necessary, with sanctions.

Deliver on UfM project implementation

The Parliamentary Assembly also pushed for the accelerated implementation of concrete projects of the Union for the Mediterranean, namely in the field of renewable energies and environment protection – Mediterranean Solar Plan, “Eco-Towns” network, creation of protected maritime underwater parks, or better waste management.

Parliamentarians advocate establishing a specific financial instrument for the region and better coordination of investment by European banks and institutions, with the aim of responding more rationally and efficiently to the needs of Mediterranean countries in transition. They remind the governments of their commitments made at the Paris Summit in 2008 and in Deauville in 2011.

In order to stimulate knowledge of the cultures of the Mediterranean regions, MEPs and MPs suggest creating a Euro-Mediterranean TV channel broadcasting in several languages, to promote the study and knowledge of Arabic, and to increase funding for university exchange programmes such as “Erasmus Mundus”.

Jordan takes over the presidency of the PA-UfM, Bosnia and Herzegovina becomes a new member

After holding the presidency of the UfM Parliamentary Assembly for a year, the EP has handed it over to Jordan.

The President of the Jordanian House of Representatives, Sa’ad Hail al-Sourour, said: “The reactivation of the Euro-Mediterranean parliamentary dialogue is of the utmost importance to strengthen mutual trust.” The new President of the Parliamentary Assembly called for contacts with civil societies to be stepped up and for a focus on youth unemployment and problems related to water, waste and energy.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was also welcomed as a new member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean and new observer to the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM).

Wilfried MEGANCK

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