25 years after the Barcelona Declaration, the importance of strengthening policy dialogue across the Mediterranean has not diminished. On the contrary, regional co-operation remains a strategic objective for the member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), given the common challenges faced by countries in the region, many resulting from global trends. They also need to ensure that recovery from the COVID-19 crisis leads to greener, more prosperous and inclusive societies in the region. The shared long-term vision is one of stability and prosperity of the region, where people, especially women and youth, can meet their hopes for the future, enjoy their rights and live in a peaceful and secure environment.

The Regional Integration in the Union for the Mediterranean: Progress Report reviews the progress of integration in the Euro-Mediterranean region and provides evidence-based policy recommendations to enhance integration. The report is the first issue in a future series that will monitor progress at periodic intervals. The Progress Report focuses on five major areas of regional integration: trade, finance, infrastructure, movement of people, and research and higher education.

This report was produced in the Global Relations Secretariat (GRS) of the OECD, led by Andreas Schaal, Director, and benefitted from the financial support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It was prepared in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Division under the strategic guidance of Carlos Conde, Head of MEA Division. The drafting team, led by Mariarosa Lunati, Senior Advisor, included Roger Forés Carrión, Alin Horj, Yasmeen Moreau, Salma Labyad and Peilin Lu. Mario Cervantes of the OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation prepared Chapter 5, with statistical support from Hiroyuki Shirato. Antonella Liberatore, Guannan Miao and Rodolfo Ostolaza of the OECD Statistics and Data Directorate developed the gravity model of trade presented in Chapter 1.

The OECD is grateful to Mohammed Elrazzaz and Hamed El Etreby from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and Johannes Laepple (GIZ) for their valuable comments and guidance throughout the project. Thanks are likewise due to Said Charna, Salima Fazzani and Giuseppe Provenzano (UfM), Alicia Figueroa Romero and Andreas Garbade (GIZ) who provided useful comments to the draft report. Nevertheless, the report presents the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the UfM Secretariat or the GIZ/BMZ or the authorities of the countries concerned. The names used in the report to designate any territory, city or area are without prejudice to the official terminology used by the UfM Secretariat.

During the early stage of the project, participants in the joint OECD GRS-STI Workshop on Regional Co-operation in Research, Higher Education and Innovation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region provided a useful exchange of views on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on regional co-operation in the EU-Mediterranean region and the emerging policy priorities for co-operation in research and higher education; and participants in the 5th Conference of Mediterranean Central Banks “Financial Integration and Inclusive Development: a View from the Mediterranean Countries” organised by the Banco de España and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), with the support of the OECD, provided useful advice on measures of financial integration relevant to the UfM region.

The OECD is grateful to participants at dedicated events and reviewers for their advice and comments on draft chapters: Karim Amellal, French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs; Nizar Ata, Aylan Consulting, Tunisia; Mohammed Benjelloun, Karim Srairi, Rachid Sarrakh and Saïd Maghraoui Hassani, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Green and Digital Economy, Morocco; Alessio Ciarlone and Alessandro Schiavone, Bank of Italy; Massimo de Andreis, SRM Economic Research Centre, Intesa Sanpaolo Group; Michaela Dodini, European Commission Directorate-General for Trade; Nico Frandi, Permanent Delegation to the OECD, Italy, and experts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, Italy; Nassib Ghobril, Economic Research Byblos Bank Group, Lebanon; Khaled Momani, Jordan Investment Commission; Marcelo Masera, European Commission Joint Research Centre; Luis Óscar Moreno García-Cano and Francisco de Asis Aguilera Aranda, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain; Wael Naeem, Ministry of Transportation, Egypt; Olivia Orozco de la Torre, Casa Árabe, Spain; Anna Terrón Cusí, FIIAPP; and Pinar Yalçın Bastırmac, Ministry of Trade of Turkey.

The MEA drafting team thanks Marzena Kisielewska, Head of South East Europe (SEE) Division in the Global Relations Secretariat, who acted as lead reviewer, and the SEE division team for the careful review of the draft chapters. Valuable comments were also received from numerous experts across the Organisation, notably: Alain Dupeyras, Jane Stacey and Laetitia Reille of the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities; Winfrid Blaschke, Hélène Francois, Emilie Kothe, Etienne Lepers, Fernando Mistura, Andrea Marin Odio and Joachim Pohl of the Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs; Jean-Christophe Dumont, Charlotte Levionnois, Sara Mouhoud and Gilles Speilvogel of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs; and Olaf Merk of the International Transport Forum. Ali Al-Saffar of the International Energy Agency, Javier Lopez Gonzales of the Trade and Agriculture Directorate and Kateryna Obvintseva of the Directorate for Education and Skills provided advice respectively on key trends in energy infrastructure, the use and interpretation of gravity models of trade, and higher education dynamics.

The report was copy-edited by Christopher Marquardt, and prepared for publication by Charity Kome (GRS/MEA). It has greatly benefited from statistical support from Léo Mineur and Sami Erchoff, administrative support from Nadia Kameleddine, and communications support from Robert Akam, Sophie Elliot and Sabrina Gasparrini, all of the OECD GRS.

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