The Minister for Foreign Action and European Union, Meritxell Serret i Aleu, announced this Thursday that steps have been taken to expand the scope of action of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to North Africa to the entire southern shore of the Mediterranean. As a result, Libya and Egypt will join Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, where the Delegation currently institutionally represents the Government of Catalonia. Serret said that the expansion of the mandate is “a step consistent with the commitment that the Catalan Government is making in the Mediterranean”, where this Delegation, which is based in Tunisia, “must be a key and strategic player.” “We want to send the message that the future of Catalonia, and of Europe, also lies in the Mediterranean,” she stressed. The project for a Mediterranean macroregion that Catalonia is leading is an example of this commitment.
This announcement is part of the strategy to deploy the Catalan Government’s network of delegations abroad, which, now 20 strong and soon be 21 with the establishment of the new delegation in Colombia, contains more delegates than ever. The means that the Catalan Government is now present in 65 countries all over the world. Minister Serret highlighted the importance of the network of delegations, and made a commitment to “consolidating it, reinforcing it and, when necessary, as we are announcing today, expanding it,” as “it is the best instrument to continue carrying out the foreign action that we want to undertake, based on credibility, reputation and usefulness.”
By extending the Delegation’s coverage in Tunis, the Catalan Government is consolidating and strengthening relations and exchanges between stakeholders on both sides of the Mediterranean, and contributing to the Mediterranean being a key project in Europe. “This step forward is part of our objective to reinforce our two major natural areas of activity: the European Union and the Mediterranean,” said Serret, who recalled that her trip to Tunisia had also established partnerships based on the creation of the Mediterranean macroregion.
On the final day of her trip, Minister Serret officially opened the offices of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to North Africa at midday, in a ceremony attended by institutional stakeholders and Tunisian civil society, as well as representatives of Catalan companies and the Catalan community resident in Tunisia. The Delegation was established in 2019, and has been headed by delegate Ahmed Benallal since then.
Why Libya and Egypt?
The Ministry for Foreign Action and European Union has taken various factors into account when undertaking the expansion in Libya and Egypt, thereby completing the Delegation’s commitment to the Mediterranean and North Africa. According to Minister Serret, “all the countries in the Mediterranean are essential and strategic for Catalonia, because the Mediterranean is our framework for development: it is where we have developed historically, and where we have major challenges in common,” such as climate change. She went on to say that “we need to reinforce our good relations with the entire region and share our learning in order to be more resilient in the face of these shared challenges.”
Both Libya and Egypt are of interest to Catalonia in sectors including energy, digitalisation, telecommunications, water and waste management, and development cooperation, among others. Indeed, Libya has been one of the key players with which the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to North Africa has had most contact in the region. Today the Delegation has a consolidated network of businesspeople, politicians and members of various institutions, at a time when Libyan stakeholders are seeking to establish international alliances for the political and economic reconstruction of the country after years of instability and conflict.
As for Egypt, the country is a key player in the Middle East and North Africa, and a bridge between Europe, Africa and Asia. It is also a country with one of the highest economic growth rates in Africa, with the second highest GDP on the continent, and a growing population of 108 million.