European Union and the Mediterranean: work, development, innovation and social cohesion

The international study seminar on "European Union and the Mediterranean: work, development, innovation and social cohesion", organised by MCL / EFAL (Movimento Cristiano Lavoratori Ente Nazionale per la Formazione e l'Addestramento dei Lavoratori) was organised by the EU and funded in cooperation with EZA, took place in Rome from February 25th to 26th, 2021. The seminar was attended by representatives of workers' organisations from Italy, and participants from different EU countries took part online. Covid-19 did not make the implementation of this seminar easy, but thanks to the placement of interpreters and technicians it was possible to bring the work into the homes of the participants in an excellent way.

The opening was opened by EZA co-president Piergiorgio Sciacqua and the EFAL president, who presented both days of the seminar.

Economist Marco Boleo spoke about innovation and social cohesion and how social dialogue can intervene. This contribution focused on the role of EU cohesion policy in the fight against the pandemic emergency by analysing the initiatives implemented by the EU institutions which, on the one hand, aim to make full use of existing expertise and financial instruments, which, despite the limited current budget, are flexible and adaptable to the new requirements of the health crisis, and which, on the other hand, tend towards a stronger appreciation of politics as a suitable legal basis in the fight against emergencies in the EU system.

ICRA's Vincenzo Conso followed online, speaking about the Mediterranean as a common model. The Mediterranean countries have a strategic role in the new economic and development positions and that is what Massimiliano Salini focused on, explaining what Europe can do today to ensure full development for this geographical area. It is important to look at a reduction in unemployment among young people and the immigration situation, as discussed by Giovanni La Via, former MEP, and Raul Mosconi, President of CEFA. The immigration situation was also the subject of Rafael Rodriguez Ponga's report on Spain. Like Italy, Spain had and is struggling with illegal immigration and integration difficulties, which should also be considered.

The second and last day was devoted to the debate, stimulated by a round table with key speakers from Spain, Greece, Croatia and Cyprus.

Good practices from the participating countries as well as issues such as employment were discussed. Human resources and especially young people are, on the one hand, a largely unused resource that needs to be employed, and on the other hand, they are recipients of all development measures. They should be encouraged to make full use of their opportunities.

The weakness of the vocational training system and thus the inadequate and inadequate qualification of employees was identified as a particularly critical element in this context. The considerable progress that has been made in the European education system has not yet eradicated the low level of schooling that is still evidenced by young people dropping out of school. The interventions in favour of the unemployed in the south have often been carried out under the pressure of emergency and without a medium-term plan, resulting in a further deterioration in the functioning of the labour market (and difficult-to-manage dependencies).

The Mezzogiorno in Italy is in a particularly weak situation in the field of technological research and development, particularly in terms of the investments made by companies, their ability to improve the innovative content of their productions/processes and the number of researchers in relation to the number of employees. The human capital produced by the universities of southern Italy is also largely underutilised. Another issue raised thanks to Carmen Quintanilla's intervention is the work of women and the commitment they can have within the economic and social system.


With this seminar, attention was drawn to the topic of the Mediterranean and employment. In recent years a new trend has become entrenched, symbolizing the brain drain of young college graduates to many more advanced countries around the world. This is a typical phenomenon of open market economies, which can make better use of talent and professionalism, which not only damages the "Italian system", but also all systems in the countries of the Mediterranean region. The question arises which strategy to choose and, above all, what role the social dialogue plays in this.