10 Years of the Mediterranean Economic Week

Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region form a key hub for Euro-Mediterranean partnerships due to their geographic location, history, port facilities, business networks and the close links they have forged with other regions around the Mediterranean. Mediterranean Economic Week, coordinated by the OCEMO (Office for Economic Cooperation for Mediterranean and Eastern States), offers an energising and effective contribution to the work being carried out to improve economic development in the Mediterranean.

Multiple issues and objectives

The objective of this 10th edition of Mediterranean Economic Week is to enhance visibility of the actions being implemented and encourage exchange on projects and initiatives with the potential to stimulate Mediterranean economies, facilitating meetings and collaborations between the various parties involved. Each year, a topical theme with particular economic, social, cultural or political relevance is chosen, acting as a common thread for debates held during the event. In 2016, the event focused on“Digital innovation for a connected Mediterranean”.

The partnership initiative aimed to promote the region and the various operators working within it, while also encouraging meetings and debates between economic partners from countries all around the Mediterranean region. The OCEMO, having been involved in the event for the last 5 years, has highlighted the value of the work carried out over this period by its Mediterranean and African partners, as well as its own teams: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to our joint financial sponsors: the City of Marseille, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, the Department of Bouches du Rhône, the Ministry of International Development and Foreign Affairs, the EPA Euroméditerranée, the Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Aix-Marseille Metropolitan Area, as well as our host venue, the Villa Méditerranée.” This reflection was also shared by Florence Dur and-Tornare, founder and delegate for the Association des Villes Internet, during the introductory session: “I’d like to thank the event organisers for bringing together everything we represent as connected citizens.”

The gathering was also an opportunity to highlight current issues being encountered in the latest developments in the digital domain, to instigate new initiatives using feedback from projects already successfully carried out in other regions, and finally to give economic stakeholders a venue to develop their business networks.

Broadening the scope of the event

A new year with a new objective: “This year, we wanted to broaden our horizons in Africa. We don’t talk about Africa enough, and if we really want to be able to generate flow, business and economic development, as well as genuine relationships between the European and

African continents, it’s important to encourage events that have one foot in each territory,” explains Pierre Massis, the General Delegate of the OCEMO.

Via a program of various conferences held over the course of three days, the digital sector was at the heart of discussions between the participants, with a variety of highly interesting presentations, some of which blatantly contradicted one another; some deploring the digital divide and others assuring the audience that digital innovation is exactly the tool needed to fix inequality. This was the point stressed by Pierre Massis as he concluded the introductory session, specifying that “what’s important is the capacity of this technology and economic sector to offer new opportunities and to integrate new audiences, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”