REMOC ITAN minutes

Further steps for territorial analysis in the wider region European + Neighbourhoods

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The ITAN project held in Barcelona its last dissemination event, on November 27th 2014, during the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders organised by IEMed. The goals were: (i) to gather all the ITAN research team, including the project’s country-experts, in order to consider further scientific cooperation; (ii) to disseminate to stakeholders ITAN main results in particular on Euro-Mediterranean territorial cooperation; (iii) to set up a common platform dedicated to territorial prospective in the Neighbourhoods, gathering researchers, Euro-Mediterranean study centres and statistics national or international bodies, so as to promote international cooperation in the field of local data.

During the scientific meeting, results on Eastern and South-Eastern (Western Balkans) Neighbourhoods were presented. It showed the key added value of country-experts in any European research dedicated to Neighbourhoods. Local experts are indispensable for fine-tuning data that official and international databases provide sometimes with non-accurate values. They are also indispensable for data interpretation and territorial analysis. The major part of the morning dealt with the Mediterranean Neighbourhood. The session on local data showed the absolute need for better harmonisation upstream; otherwise harmonisation of heterogeneous data done after they are collected proves incredibly difficult.

Joana Ortega i Alemany, Vice-President of the Catalan Government and ARLEM Member, and Senen Florensa, Executive President of IEMed, introduced the afternoon dissemination session. They stressed on the utmost importance of territorial approach of the Neighbourhoods, and the need for local data to nurture such approach. They insisted on the opportunity to develop three macro-regions within the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation framework.

Three actors reacted to the presentation of the scientific results of ITAN and of another research project dedicated to Euro-Mediterranean territories (PEGASO): the Director of the UNESCO Chair on World Food System, the EBRD Managing Director for Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, and a Senior Advisor of UfM Secretariat General. They said that researchers and actors need a common Neighbourhoods “local knowledge base” (not only national); that Cohesion policy and Neighbourhood policy should be crossed; that decision-makers lack integrated databases and analyses for policy orientation. According to them, an open local data platform associating researchers and actors dedicated to territories could provide important support to decision-making, for a Euro-Mediterranean deeper integration.

During the last session and debate, Euro-Mediterranean study centres and national statistics institutions representatives confirmed the need for a common Neighbourhoods Local Data Platform. However, the term of “platform” connotes too much a technocratic action; rather than being directly dedicated to “data”, such initiative should be more ambitious and tackle strategic needs of the region, namely a territorial prospective with various scenarios to be set up with stakeholders and proposed to decision-makers. It should promote international cooperation in the field of local data within existing cooperation programmes and stay a light body rather than creating a new structure per se. A common call is to be further elaborated so as to disseminate the say of this ITAN event’s participants, and of other groupings which would like to join our initiative.

During the final debate, several tracks were highlighted for setting up and funding such initiative on the long term (Medstat next forum, ENPI, UfM, H2020), otherwise our local database will not be updated nor useful, and will rapidly die. The driving principles of such initiative are (i) a gathering of researchers (majority) and statistics bodies, (ii) from both Europe and other countries of the wider region (the term “Neighbourhoods” should be avoided), (iii) a strong interaction with territories stakeholders.

Introduction and goals of the meeting

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The Scientific Coordinator of the ITAN project, Pierre Beckouche, warmly thanks the welcoming speech of Andreu Olesti Rayo, Head of the Public Law Institute of the University of BarcelonaLaura Sancho Huici let the University wonderfully host this ITAN event. He thanks all the ITAN team –both the consortium (CIST, EVS, IGEAT, Mcrit, Nordregio) and country-experts who have brought a strong added value to the project. He underlines how efficient the CIST team was to manage this three-year process (Diouldé Diallo for administrative and financial tasks, Marion Gentilhomme for communication and publishing, Hugues Pecout for data management and cartography), with special thanks to the ITAN Project Manager Pierre Besnard who made all this work possible.

He congratulates the ITAN team for the Project Final Report, which will soon be released online, once ESPON coordination unit agrees on final adjustments. This report is impressive, with innovative composite indicators (Local International Openness, Local Human Development Index…), a pioneer comprehensive multi-scalar view of the region that encompasses Europe and its Neighbour territories, relevant country-analyses made by country-experts and comprehensively available in the report. It shows how important territorial approach of the Neighbourhoods issue is, especially when inter-governmental diplomatic relations are stalling.

Plus, ITAN has set up a pioneering database of the Neighbour territories, compliant with European databases, which allows this comprehensive vision of our wider region. It can back up many further scientific works on this region and genuine support to decision-making.

The goal of this Barcelona last dissemination meeting is to circulate such assets, and to confirm that our wider region shows bigger opportunities than threats. It is also to figure out further step for territorial analysis of Neighbour countries, thanks to a common platform which could gather research teams, study and statistical bodies of the whole region. The morning session will strengthen the current and potential scientific gathering; the afternoon session will host policy-makers and Euro-Mediterranean bodies, so as to put this common platform project forward.

Morning session – Scientific meeting

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Main findings on Eastern Neighbourhood – Julien Grunenfelder (Nordregio)

ITAN report stresses on underdeveloped physical infrastructure connecting this Neighbourhood to Western Europe. A key to promoting both regionalisation (flows) and regionalism (cooperation agreements) is the building-out of transport infrastructure. When it comes to the Baltic region, the exclusion of Russia in the developing process of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region is a significant deficit. Among good practices of territorial development strategies is the introduction of a bilateral local border traffic agreement between northern Poland and Kaliningrad in 2012. On the other hand, since November 2013 Eastern Partnership Summit and the contest between EU and Russian influence upon Ukraine, an increasing geopolitical tension is among the main threats to territorial cooperation. Due to the central role of energy in this Neighbourhood, a European Energy Policy is an prerequisite for a genuine partnership between EU Member States and Russia, and an overarching condition for better territorial cooperation at all scale between EU and Eastern Neighbours.

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Main findings on South-Eastern Neighbourhood – Emmanuelle Boulineau (CNRS / EVS) and Byron Kotzamanis (Demobalk)

Western Balkans are a “small” Neighbourhood, in terms of territory and of population. Still, it is a key territory, a hub of influences (vis-à-vis Western Europe but also Eastern Neighbourhood –see the recent thinking about the Russian influence upon Western Balkans). Territorial discrepancies here are important, yet Western Balkans are all too often regarded as a whole. Moreover, there is low partnership between scientists of Western Europe and Western Balkans. Data are a particularly tricky issue, due to (i) important administrative reforms: new States, new statistical bodies, new geometries, hence the tremendous ITAN work to deliver a comprehensive analysis of these changes; (ii) political instability: data were difficult to collect during the wars and turmoil (e.g. in Albania which experienced a lack of… paper for Civil Status registration data!), including for basic data such as mortality. International and European standards have been adopted, harmonisation efforts have been done by these countries –but important discrepancies in data temporal series remain. To cope with this, ITAN has set up a partnership with Demobalk research network. For instance, thanks to the World Bank, Demobalk could manage to get the right Albania 1989 census whose data were not available otherwise. Demobalk also helped coping with puzzling data, e.g. emigrant people according to the Albania 2001 census, that is to say 34 000 people whereas other sources speak of 700 000. Cooperation with Neighbour country-experts proved indispensable for ITAN database and analysis. Partnership with local partner institutions showed also very valuable; as an example, the Serbian Agency for Spatial Planning was helpful to get a regional breakdown of FDI in Serbia. Without such partners no possible good data -and without data no possible thorough territorial analysis nor support to decision-making.

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Main findings on Mediterranean Neighbourhood – Country examples

Palestine: Circumstances beyond his control have prevented Issa Zboun (ARIJ) from intervening. However he has provided us with his planned intervention on the Palestinian situation (find herewith).

Israel: Yinon Cohen (Columbia University) describes the way Israel counts its population, including annexed East Jerusalem (with specific status), Golan Heights, and West Bank settlers. The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics provides a lot of data by district, nevertheless ITAN had to make specific calculation to analyse the specific population of East Jerusalem and the settlers. The guideline of the country report was to analyse territories through data provided by religion, especially “Jews” and “Muslims” or sometimes “Arabs”. As an example, Arabs’ fertility is going down; Jews’ is catching up in particular due to Jerusalem and West Bank & Gaza figures. Public employment is very high among Jews in Jerusalem and West Bank & Gaza, which means a de facto robust public back up to settlers; when it comes to Palestinians, degrees from Al Quds University are not recognised by Israel public authorities: this hampers Palestinian access to public employment. A major output of ITAN is that the project calculated an index of Palestinian / Jews segregation, by district. All of these facts bring back to the 1947-1948 war.

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Jordan: Myriam Ababsa (IFPO Amman), who has recently published an Atlas of Jordan, found with ITAN the opportunity to enlarge the scope of territorial analysis. Jordan researchers never meet Israeli ones. The country report stresses on the importance of the refugee status of Palestinians in Jordan, since 1948. Other important migration waves are Iraqi migration (approximately 200 000), then 700 000 Syrian refugees (in very poor condition). 500 000 Egyptians and Asian workers (namely in the Qualifying Industrial Zones) are to be added. Thus, Jordan shows as a stable country, but with a very high level of foreign-born people, a terrible geopolitical regional context, a high dependence on foreign aid (the country is World number 2 for ODA per inhabitant) and remittances (20% of the GDP). On all these fields and on other territorial issues, recent data collection is made difficult due to the Syrian refugee issue and to the economic crisis. Yet, as a whole, numerous data are available at local scale.

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Egypt: Delphine Pagès El Karoui (INALCO and URMIS) stresses on the important density issue, as well as on the transition issue: Egypt is clearly a country in transition –economic transition, urban transition (with a largely dominant urban population), environmental transition (with a growing water concern), and political transition (with a revolution and a counter-revolution phase). Territorial analysis is made difficult because the urban structure of Egypt does not fit with the Governorates administrative delineation, and because delineation are changing which hampers data collection and interpretation. The urban / rural issue shows particularly tricky when seen through administrative data, due to a very complex territorial official classification. Territorial analysis is characterised by rapid social changes (decline of fertility rate, rise of the educational level, rising status of women, growing urbanisation), increasing inequalities (e.g. dualisation of health and education systems), strong divide between the North and the South of the country, and rising terrorism in peripheral areas of the country. Another driving element of territorial analysis is the environmental concern: water shortage but also land reclamation in the desert and loss of arable land because of urbanisation. The national cohesion is at stake, and this has a strong territorial component.

Libya: Rafaa Tabib (Manouba University) added an important value to the project by providing ITAN with territorial data in a country where data is incredibly difficulty to get. The major political turmoil has provoked and is still provoking a huge transformation of the Libyan territory, with geometry changes, vast migratory movements, and cities destructions. Statistically, demographically gaining cities have been agglomerated in larger territorial units, so that the final result of the 2012 census largely hides these territorial transformations. Moreover, Libyan families often have migrant members, who do not live there; as census officers hardly enter houses, the head of the household over-declares the population of its household –to get larger subsidies (aid redistribution is a key mechanism of Libya). The country has one million civil servants for six million Libyans: this scheme works like a national system for income redistribution and access to services. Internal and external migrations play a major role in actual and potential territorial change (partition tomorrow?). For instance, the Tobou ethnic group counts two million people in the Sahel territory –but less than half a million in Libya, and migratory movements are very hard to document. A key issue for understanding the Libyan territory is the tribes’ organisation. Khadafi regime could not turn this organisation into a nation State. Last, official data show very questionable (all the more as the census services have been destroyed during the war), such as the real population of Tripoli. Some areas have not been surveyed because of the political unrest. “Prisoners” and “disappeared people” (often former members of the Khadafi wheel) are very under-estimated. Many former pro-Khadafi today live in neighbour countries, especially Tunisia (between 0.6 and 1.6 million).

Session on local data: the need for better harmonisation – Moderator: Gilles Van Hamme (IGEAT)

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Pierre Besnard (CIST, ITAN Project Manager)
Collecting and harmonising local data of over twenty countries has been a huge task –far beyond tasks usually allotted to research teams. 27 countries * 8 data files * 10 to 20 indicators * 10 to 30 SNUTS by country make more than 60 000 statistical data, to be added to energy data, water data (thanks to the Plan Bleu), investment data (thanks to Anima), transport data, and media data (stemming from the CIST-ANR Corpus Geomedia project). ITAN carried out his role but, clearly, that kind of work should be made by a gathering of research teams and statistical institutes. Plus, ITAN had to assume an amount of geometry changes, geometry denomination difficulties (various languages), fuzzy borders (Golan Heights, Transnistria…). We had to tackle various definitions of the “same” indicator (e.g. income); lacking indicators and use of proxys (e.g. tertiary education for local GDP per inhab.), etc. Last, non-concordance of censuses years drove us to also harmonise time series.

Nidhal Ben Cheikh (CRES, Tunisia)
Tunisia benefits from good quality data, produced by INS and other administrations, at quite a local territorial level (SNUTS 3: Governorates). Since the first census (1921) many censuses and surveys have been completed… but many delineation changes occurred. Another problem is that economic data are largely lacking; income and poverty data are insufficient, and data definitions are not stable over time. Moreover, the territorial issue (e.g. unemployment is 32% in Centre-West but 10% in North-eastern coastal areas in the framework of the insertion of Tunisia in international flows but with low impact on the inner country) has long been under-estimated by the public authorities of the country. Inter-census surveys (employment, households’ consumption) under-represent inner areas. This has dramatically changed since 2011. In the last decades the State tried to overcome the traditional tribal organisation, but without developing an integrated national territory. Along with the territorial issue, the national statistical system should pay higher attention to comparable data with other countries of the region.

Zahia Ouadah-Beddidi (Paris-Diderot University, France, Algeria country-report)
Participating in ITAN project was a great opportunity for comparison with other countries (Maghreb, Europe…). But accessing Algerian data is difficult –even for policy-makers sometimes. Data difficulties are partly local and partly national. Like in Tunisia, there are numerous sources of data. But transparency is low, access is often much lower than what is officially said “available” (everybody complains about this, researchers to begin with); temporal series are often lacking (punctual inquiries, financed by international donors for instance, are hardly reproduced); definitions of indicators change and are not always documented (including for basic data such as fertility or migration). Some indicators disappear from a census to another (e.g. degree level, read and spoken language, etc.). Moreover, local inter-censal information is rather reducing. Birth is not really documented spatially since the data deal with the place where the child was born (hospital) and not where its family lives. Without valuable demographic indicator, how to launch credible population policies (oldies boom, territorial rising differences in fertility decrease…)?

Oguz Isik (Middle-East Technical University, Turkey)
The main problem for ITAN was to provide time series data. One reason is delineation change (67 provinces in 1960, 81 today), all the more as administrative delineation is a very political issue. Since 2000, things are doing better, namely thanks to the adoption of the Eurostat norms (NUTS system). But major data are only available at NUTS2 level. In terms of territorial analysis, rapid fertility decrease and rise of education show an uneven territorial pattern, with three different “Turkey” (West –with now negative natural growth but positive demographic growth thanks to in-migration / central / East). Public investment rather increases these territorial disparities.

Mustapha Bouzaiene (Tunisia INS Central Director of the Economic Context Observatory)
Statistics system shows similarities with other Mediterranean countries (Morocco…). But its modernisation could not cope with social and economic changes. Moreover, INS was dedicated to data collection, and not to analysis. Last, INS does not produce all public Tunisian data, but is responsible for coordination. There is some misunderstanding between official indicators and ratios (on employment…) and reality felt by population. Hence the need for better statistical information. Another stake is the perspective of decentralisation of the country. Since 2011, INS tasks are (i) to take higher advantage of existing information, (ii) to improve dissemination, (iii) to make methodological choices about surveys size, and higher use of econometric and model technics. This will be a long run work. It will need a new mind-set, stronger regional teams (which should not be limited to data collection), training and exchanges of experiences. Tensions could occur between national and local data teams.

Olivia Blum (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Director of International Relations)
As data producer, CBS often wonders if and how these data are used by researchers –ITAN shows that they are! Israeli data is good, international standards steer data quality. In Israel –a unitary and not federal country– data production is centralised: districts do not produce data. But the coordination between CBS departments and between the various ministries has to be made, even in a centralised system. In civil status registers, problems come from the fact that, for example, people do not report migration. CBS is setting up a business register, but addresses are lacking. A dwellings register, including location of work, is under construction. A rolling census is envisaged. In territorial terms, “peripheries” had to be defined because the government wanted to invest more in such “peripheries”.

Afternoon session – Dissemination

Institutional introduction

Joana Ortega i Alemany (Vice-President of the Catalan Government, ARLEM member)
The ITAN project shows the importance of territorial approach of the neighbourhoods. It helps avoid considering the neighbourhoods as a threat. Indeed, we should not see migration like a threat but, rather, mobility as an opportunity. We should envisage with Neighbour countries an energy transition for less carbon consumption and higher use of the region’s solar potential. We should consider water as a key question, to be dealt with in a sustainable, multi-scalar and participative way. A territorial approach of these stakes is a necessary and valuable input for the European Neighbourhood Policy. As a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Local and Regional Assembly (ARLEM) and of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CRPM), I contributed in February 2014 in a report for the plenary session of ARLEM showing the utmost importance of territorial cooperation between Mediterranean actors, for a sustainable and inclusive growth, compliant with EU 2020 Strategy. This report proposes a renewed territorial cooperation at horizon 2030, which brings us to the future ENP and UfM action. A macro-regional Mediterranean strategy could learn from the Baltic and Danube regional successful attempts. We should envisage three Mediterranean macro-regions, based on a multi-scalar governance and participation of local actors: Adriatic, Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean.

Senen Florensa (Executive President of IEMed)
Studies on Mediterranean territories can be very useful to Euro-Mediterranean political and institutional actors. When it was launched, the Barcelona process focused on a large free-trade area. The scope was general. Today, we obviously have to be more accurate. Since the Arab Spring, the situation is changed, our region is more differentiated than ever: strong hope for democracy in Tunisia, authoritarian turn in other countries such as Egypt, destroyed States (Libya, Syria), countries which try to maintain status quo thanks to their resources (Algeria…). The territorial approach matches such diversity, and the need for in-depth Neighbourhoods’ modernisation. Hence the importance of territorial data, and the crossing of demographic, water, energy data with territorial approach. This could contribute to the renewal of EU action in the Mediterranean, instead of today’s disorientation. In that perspective, IEMed can help interaction between experts and actors. The idea of three Mediterranean macro-regions should be further elaborated; it could be the framework of the future public cooperation. In this respect, a Western Mediterranean macro-region could take over the actual 5+5 dialogue. This view should remain imbedded in a large Euro-Mediterranean regional vision, according to the principles of the UfM: enhanced cooperation, and variable-geometry projects.

Mediterranean: ITAN recommendations for a better territorial integration and cooperation

Pierre Beckouche (CIST) presents ITAN main achievements: (i) the first step of a sustainable local database compliant with EU databases; (ii) a comprehensive view of the wider region, including maps of energy networks, transports networks and accessibility at the scale of the whole region; (iii) an assessment of the regional integration between Europe & Neighbour territories, namely thanks to innovative composite indicators (Local International Openness, Local Human Development Index, etc.); (iv) recommendations for territorial cooperation –namely in the fields of energy, water and sanitation, agriculture, transports and territorial planning. He also emphasises what remains to be done in order to complete the ITAN local data collection, and the need for a partnership gathering national statistics bodies and researchers so as to promote local data harmonisation for the wider region. If Euro-Mediterranean stakeholders want to have an accurate integrated vision of the region’s territories, they have to ease access to comparable local data.

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Andreu Ulied (Mcrit) presents the main results of ITAN Gibraltar case study. The two sides of the straight are all too often viewed as belonging to very different territories. In reality, ITAN shows their striking cultural alikeness and convergence. Flows between the two sides are rising, socio-demographic structures are converging, migration too (North-South and South-North) on the long term. Economically, the Southern side will progressively catch up with the Northern. In terms of territorial cooperation, it has to be highlighted that the Spanish constitution forbids inter-regional cooperation, which hampers relationship between local actors, despite the progress of State de-concentration in Morocco and higher competencies of the Tangiers-Tetouan region.

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Françoise Breton (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, PEGASO Project Manager)
Territorial cooperation is not an abstract feature; it implies information, and real cooperation between people and between institutions –a key for success. More than 1 000 people have participated in PEGASO project (PRCD, 2011-2013, Mediterranean and Black Sea costal and marine territories). Cooperation continues after PEGASO ended (e.g. platform on governance of coastal areas). PEGASO led to a Land cover 2000 and 2011 picture and analysis of the Mediterranean Basin, and to innovative index of ecosystem vulnerability. One output is the evolution of the diverse land use –forests, urbanisation, agricultural land… It has also led to a tight common work with local authorities and experts so as to avoid errors of satellite data interpretation, and set up participative scenarios. A shared database is open to scientists and local actors. A collaborative atlas is being made. Thus, strategic questions on following up are the same as for ITAN: how to enlarge cooperation between researchers and actors, how to ensure further territorial data collection and analysis, how to share cartographic representation methods, how to update data and take advantage of the amount of data and collaborative networks set up during the project? All these issues should be pursued with other projects dedicated to Neighbourhood territories –ITAN to begin with.

Feedback from territorial development stakeholders

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Jean-Louis Rastoin (Director of the Unesco Chair on World Food System)
The Mediterranean food issue calls for a new paradigm –all the more as there will remain 100 million people in rural areas in the coming decades in South Mediterranean countries. Reducing territorial disparities implies further work on Sustainable Welfare Index, on civil societies actions, and on three issues where knowledge is lacking: (i) informal economy, (ii) enterprises, (iii) health, level and quality of people consumption. In rural areas in particular, action depends on better knowledge on health and food consumption, pollutions and biosphere condition, cultural heritage, and governance. Researchers and actors need a common “local knowledge base” –not only national. This common base should be open and sustainable. Ensuring free access would suppose public funding, if one wants to avoid that tomorrow Google and other big data major players monopolise data. We should set up networks for free access to sustainable development information and public debates, and further surveys on food local consumption according to comparable methods in South Med countries –Maghreb to begin with. This could promote food territorialised systems for a better food security.

Hildegard Gacek (EBRD Managing Director for Southern and Eastern Mediterranean)
EBRD has become a Mediterranean actor: its loans will reach €b 2.5 in 2016 in the four Mediterranean countries of its mandates. EBRD invests particularly in agricultural, food production and distribution. Energy is another key sector due to the large rise of energy demand there; in 2013 EBRD worked with OME on renewable decentralised energy. EBRD just signed its first project in renewable energy with the private sector (Jordan). Gender assessment is another major issue. ITAN results are highly important for a better understanding of the Mediterranean region. Its Report accurately addresses the issue of regionalisation; it shows that Mediterranean Neighbour countries are less and less connected to Europe, which is very challenging. Its threat & opportunities section is particularly relevant. As the report says, economic spaces’ fragmentation in Mediterranean Neighbourhood is a shortcoming. So are territorial disparities, of which ITAN provides the comparative analysis (Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine…).

Guy Fleuret (Senior Advisor at Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat General)
The UfM is based on co-ownership (and not dissymmetry) and projects promotion. All inter-governmental meetings of Europe with Mediterranean partner countries are now held in the framework of the UfM. We have to acknowledge that the Mediterranean region is economically lowly integrated, compared to East Asia or North America. Plus, Mediterranean relations are very dissymmetrical. We remain far from the objective of integration. Yet, needs are enormous. Needs for urban investments in the 15 coming years account for €b 130, for the only response to the demographic growth; plus €b 70 for facing the energy demand. This argues in favour of what the ITAN report calls “more opportunities than threats”. Public-Private Partnership will be indispensable, given the current difficulties of public finances. Would the Neighbourhoods not need a “Juncker plan bis”? Catalan Vice-president and IEMed president are right calling for Mediterranean macro-regions. However, the Euro-Mediterranean policy should remain, so as to avoid bilateral approaches. ITAN report is right when it promotes crossing Cohesion policy and Neighbourhood policy. Indeed, data is a very important issue: decision-makers lack integrated databases and analyses for policy orientation; an open local data platform associating researchers and actors could provide important support to decision-making, for a Euro-Mediterranean deeper integration.

– Euro-Mediterranean market integration is low, yes, but look also at universities and cultural Mediterranean links.
– Could EBRD and the UfM finance a Neighbourhoods Local Data Platform? The Bank cannot finance such initiative, but could collaborate via its Chief Economist namely on territorial disparities issue, transports and data issues. UfM is a political institution, not donor; but it can helps vis-à-vis donors. Good projects can find funding, problem is to find the relevant way to meet the accurate donors; here UfM can help.

Towards a common “Neighbourhoods Local Data Platform”?

Olivia Blum (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, Director of International Relations)
It would be better to join forces (e.g. Medstat) than to create a new initiative. There is a lot of international cooperation on national scale data, for instance within ENPI. Maybe the next Medstat stage could integrate regional (what this conference calls “local”) statistics; but it has to be kept in mind that Medstat has primarily to focus on sustainability of data and data infrastructures (metadata…), and that national statistics bodies are already overloaded by harmonisation tasks (with ILO and Eurostat standards, SDMX Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange, etc.). Another track is big data, not yet on the table, but it could be relevant for local data (e.g. cell phones information). Last, indeed an index of sustainable welfare (stemming from the Stiglitz report) is an interesting track to follow. In all cases, the convincing argument should be to make local data accessible to researchers.

Mustapha Bouzaiene (Tunisia INS Central Director of the Observatory of Economic Context)
Local data are indeed very important and necessary. A lot could be done by taking advantage of what already exists, because creating more data files is money generator and time consuming. An international cooperation could cope with common methodology, and institutional capacity building (twinning is a good way for that). Indeed, Medstat is an opportunity; the Medstat 4 Forum will be launched next spring, will we have time to incorporate local data? This issue should be discussed with EuropeAid.

Jeanne Lapujade (Anima, Network & Development Coordinator)
In 2003 Anima launched its observatory of investments in the Mediterranean. It is based on various professional (investment agencies) and press information, in a anticipation perspective, at microeconomic scale. Data are partly confidential: agencies do not want to circulate their data, but it is possible to anonymise data. In 2009 it launched a GIS and a FDI mapping tool; an FDI atlas has been published. But a GIS needs competencies and money to update data and maps. Hence the interest for ITAN. Mapping is a real added value; ITAN proves efficient for instance when it crosses FDI and territorial dynamic. Last, Anima has just launched an initiative for assessing impact of FDI and public investments (funding Feder and ENPI). On all these subjects, a common platform dedicated to Neighbourhoods local data would be relevant. In this respect, the French Agency AFII (Anima member) has launched an observatory of FDI in Europe; it could be interesting to mutualise with Anima so as to have a comprehensive vision of the region.

Hugues Ravenel (Plan Bleu, Director)
Initiated by the Mediterranean Action Plan forty years ago, the Plan Bleu is an interface between scientists and decision-makers, on the field of environment. It is a “meta-observatory”, and not an observatory itself, it holds no database on the long run. In that perspective, the 2005 Mediterranean Strategy of Sustainable Development (MSSD) is a key document, but is hardly known… Could we cooperate through a “Neighbourhood Local Data Platform”? The approach seems too technical, it should be converted in a more problematized way, raising the major issue of the Euro-Mediterranean region, for instance its territorial prospective and scenarios. The regional deeper integration could be one of those scenarios, along with a scenario of active energy transition. Under these conditions, Plan Bleu and its 21 countries of the Barcelona Convention might be interested in participating. Its goals and geography would then have to be clarified, its wording too (avoid “Neighbourhood” which is too related to EU policy). The platform should, as the IPCC at its beginning, gather more researchers than public administrations. Like IPCC, it could progressively encompass more public bodies, which would produce their own executive summary stemming from the scientific report.

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Dania Abdul Malak (University of Malaga, Med-IAMER project)
Med-IAMER project works on the “eco-regions” of the Western Mediterranean. It provides statistics on men pressure per eco-region, maps, key messages to policy-makers (policy briefs), best practices, and scientific papers, just like ITAN. It also produces comparable seamless information. A common action with ITAN could be devoted to further seamless territorial data and data common standards.


Neighbourhoods delineation
– Are ITAN delineation agreed by public authorities? No but they stick to administrative boundaries. They have been set up by a partnership between ITAN and the M4D ESPON project so as to become ESPON delineation for Neighbourhoods.
– Our Platform should namely take in charge the delineation issue, its changes and local data availability.

What should be the name and target of our common initiative ?
– Territorial prospective and scenarios would be relevant.

What funding for the Platform?
– A “Neighbourhood ESPON”?
– We could try an ERC project (€m 1,5), with South Mediterranean partners
– Could the CMI in Marseilles help?
– EuropeAid via Medstat? Problem is that the project would be too administrative. We would better have a more scientific common project, though connected to Medstat 4 if it would be partly dedicated to local data
– During the ITAN dissemination in Brussels UfM representatives confirmed that it could finance such an initiative
– H2020 calls are also a good opportunity. Some calls deal with cooperation between Europe and other parts of the world. They are not purely scientific projects, and have to include universities, national public bodies, private sector. They do not have to cover the whole region –applicants just have to state that the rest of the region could be potentially interested. The call will be open soon, deadline May 2015. Amount: €m 1.5 to 2.
– See also the new ENPI call.

[message_box title=”” color=”grey”]The Barcelona call for a “Neighbourhood Territorial Prospective Alliance”[/message_box]