MADRID (AP) - More investment and polices regulating immigration are needed for countries on the southern Mediterranean basin that have been hit hard by the food and energy crisis brought on by Russia's war in Ukraine, the European Union's foreign policy chief said Thursday.
Speaking at the 7th regional forum of the Union for the Mediterranean that brought together delegations from 43 countries, Josep Borrell said southern countries need support to narrow the growing economic gap with countries in the north.
Borrell said the war had "aborted the growth that was beginning to take place and it is laying the basis for a financial crisis, more inflation and less growth."
Delegations from the 27 EU member states and 16 Mediterranean partner countries from North Africa, Western Asia and Southern Europe gathered for the forum in Spain´s northeastern city of Barcelona.
Borrell said it "should worry us all" that the economic gap is growing not only between north and south, but among southern countries themselves "which are enlarging their differences and not resolving their conflicts."
He said southern countries constitute one of the least economically integrated areas in the world with half of the population in region being under the age of 24.
"It's a very young population in search of opportunities," he said adding that there need to be more development and regulated migration. "Opportunities have to be offered."
The Union for the Mediterranean aims to promote dialogue and cooperation among its member countries despite their economic and political differences.
The meeting announced that North Macedonia was its latest member.
The forum signed an accord to launch the Medusa submarine communications cable project between the southern European countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus and the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt.