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The Mediterranean region is of strategic importance to the EU, in both economic (trade, energy, migration) and political (security, stability) terms.” In the economic domain, the area is still standing both fast demographic and labour force expansion, while a slow economic growth is resulting in high unemployment and stagnating incomes.

The economic development of the so called “developing countries” is worsened by the lack of access to knowledge, education and high-quality research laboratories and instrumentation. The opportunities for long-term economic growth are often further reduced by the difficulties in establishing a sustainable management of the environment and natural resources. The strategic importance of the area has been recognised by Europe for many years and politically relevant initiatives have been carried out, especially in the last fifteen years.

The Southern Mediterranean and Middle East countries are members of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership established by the Barcelona Declaration (1995) and the importance of the region is also witnessed by the creation of a specific financial instrument (MEDA) which has been replaced by the more general European neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). The EUMEDGRID-Support proposal strictly follows the spirit of capitalising on this recognition of strengthening partnerships.

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