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EU-Med forum: South needs investment, immigration policy

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MADRID — More investment and immigration policies are needed for the southern Mediterranean countries hit hard by the food and energy crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Thursday.

Josep Borrell said at the 7th Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean, which brought together delegations from 43 countries, that southern countries need support to narrow the growing economic gap with countries in the north.

Borrell said the war “cut off the growth that was beginning to take place and laid the foundations for a financial crisis, more inflation and less growth.”

Delegations from the 27 EU Member States and 16 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe gathered for the forum in the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona.

Borrell said it “should worry us all” that the economic divide is widening not only between north and south, but also between southern countries themselves “which are widening their differences and not resolving their conflicts”.

He said southern countries are one of the least economically integrated areas in the world, with half of the region’s population under the age of 24.

“It’s a very young population looking for opportunities,” he said, adding that more development and regulated migration is needed. “Opportunities must be offered.”

The Union for the Mediterranean aims to promote dialogue and cooperation between its Member States, despite their economic and political differences.

The assembly announced that North Macedonia was the newest member.

The forum has signed an agreement for the launch of the Medusa submarine communication cable project between the southern European countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus and the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.

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