Last year was challenging for all of us. It made us realize the importance of regional cooperation as never before. However, this crisis also drove us to become more innovative and resilient in fostering such cooperation and making us realize the potential of transforming the pandemic into a great opportunity to strengthen cross-national ties. Realizing this both as a need and an opportunity, the EMA continued its relentless efforts to intensify Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.

As the only German member of ASCAME and a partner of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the EMA represents a strong link between the German and the Mediterranean economies. With more than twelve years of experience in the preparation, organization, and implementation of events, business delegations, market analyses, and projects in the region, the EMA has a broad and reliable network especially on the southern Mediterranean shore. From women empowerment to healthcare to digital transformation, from supply chain management to textiles to agribusiness: EMA activities and expertise in the region are diverse.

The EMA promotes and implements ecologically and socially sustainable projects. For instance, in 2012, it initiated the award-winning mentoring program Ouissal, sponsored by successive German governments, to build bridges between German and North African female entrepreneurs and start-up founders. Gender equality and the economic empowerment of women are key not only to their social and political participation, but also to sustainable development. The steadily growing German-Arab women’s network indicates that the EMA fills a gap in German-Arab-African cooperation.

In Morocco, the EMA and its partner association BME – one of the largest organizations for purchasing and supply chain managers in Europe – have implemented the project ConnectAchat since 2017. It increasingly integrates Moroccan partners into international structures regarding sourcing, procurement, and supply chain management. Here, the new German supply chain law is expected to play a greater role in the second three-year phase that the project has only recently entered.

Also in Morocco, the EMA – together with the chambers of commerce and industry of Schwerin in Northern Germany and Tangier in Morocco as well as the Moroccan food industry association FENAGRI – launched a capacity building project for small businesses in the agro-industry sector in December 2020. One of its aims is to set up a training facility (“Food Academy”) in Ouezzane as a center for young, aspiring entrepreneurs.

In Tunisia, the EMA and the German association of IT executives VOICE aim to strengthen partner organizations to promote the digitization of the Tunisian economy together with their local partner Club DSI. The project is part of the PartnerAfrica program, which is implemented in the context of the Special Initiative on Training and Employment by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

All of these initiatives strengthen German-Mediterranean relations in line with national and bilateral policies of economic cooperation for job creation, SME support, and sustainable growth on the one hand. On the other hand, such initiatives stem from the needs of business and private sector communities themselves thus going beyond the purpose of mere development cooperation. Its impartial approach and successful matchmaking have helped the EMA to open doors to economic and political decision makers in sometimes difficult to access markets. There are encouraging signs for future collaboration between both shores of the Mediterranean and their northern neighbors. We are prepared to further this fruitful partnership with ASCAME and other interested partners in the region.