The Report on Mediterranean Economies presents an updated summary of the socio-economic research conducted by the Institute for Studies on Mediterranean Societies (ISSM) of the National Research Council (CNR). The Report has been published since 2003 and has an annual frequency.
In recent years, international economic relations and political conditions in the South-Eastern Mediterranean countries have been changing. In this context of major change, the objectives and instruments of the European Mediterranean policy need to be reconsidered, in order to gather together elements useful for strengthening it and suggesting new orientations. A relaunching of cooperation strategies between the banks of the basin requires a good knowledge of the structural characteristics and political and economic dynamics of the economies of the southern and eastern shores of the basin. The Report aims to respond to a demand for knowledge of these dynamics, which comes from economic and institutional actors and which is also reflected in the university and postgraduate training offer, which often identifies the Mediterranean as a case study representative of relations between the North and South of the world. The Mediterranean is a very integrated space within it, as the data on interchange and logistics show in a clear way, but it also presents all the critical aspects of an inhomogeneous space in which countries with deep economic inequalities, various indicators of human development, processes of democratization in progress and the results still uncertain and conflicts never dormant that feed a perennial state of political instability enter into contact. Therefore, while maintaining its character as a permanent observatory on the Mediterranean Economies, it is hoped that the Report will gradually open up to political-institutional issues, instruments of analysis essential for reading an international scenario in which geopolitical and geoconomic dynamics have a decisive influence on global economic growth. The reflection on the future of cooperation on the need for a rethinking of Euro-Mediterranean policies, which also emerges from the most recent Community programmes such as Horizon 2020, stems from the awareness that global economic instability requires the search for regional responses, since the negative repercussions of the crisis on national markets and the need to build new development paths based on the strengthening of intergovernmental cooperation are evident. The Report on the Mediterranean economies is intended to represent an original publication compared to other research products in Italy. These relations are characterized by an exclusively political focus, analysis of Euro-Mediterranean relations and identification of foreign policy strategies to manage emergency situations (control of political instability outbreaks, management of migration flows) or solely for the economic cutback, to support companies interested in investing in SEMCs. The ISSM report would like to place itself at the intersection of these two different disciplinary approaches, a product of research and reflection able to make politics interact with the economy. Moreover, the report does not only aim to update the state of the various areas of economic interest examined, but also to propose interpretative lines, present facts and figures, giving them a reading capable of capturing the current trends.
The report aims to be an observatory on the dynamics of socio-economic cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean context, analysed in their fundamental aspects (population, trade, foreign investment, environment, etc…) and focused on Euro-Mediterranean relations and interdependencies that are manifested between the three shores of the basin. The report could be of great usefulness to give a new impetus to the politics of Italy in the Mediterranean, which loses commercial positions on the southern and eastern shores of the basin to the advantage of non-EU European powers, such as Germany, and sees its logistical centrality diminished, with the downgrading of Italian ports increasingly exposed to competition from other Mediterranean and South-Mediterranean European airports. The need that Europe has to manage complex phenomena, such as migratory pressure, the presence of old conflicts that have never been resolved on the south-eastern shore of the basin (the Arab-Israeli conflict, the continuous inter-ethnic tensions in Lebanon) and new civil wars in Libya and Syria, the request for asylum of populations in a state of war, imposes a change of course and requires the overcoming of a Mediterranean seen from the North. Only from a cross-referenced look at the Mediterranean societies analysed in their mutual interdependence, can a common strategy emerge that values convergences of political objectives and economic complementarities.
The report has been proposed as a useful tool for experts from different disciplinary backgrounds, institutions, economic operators and also as an effective teaching tool for students of university courses and masters courses that have as a case study in the Mediterranean area. A re-launch of the Report implies its wider diffusion throughout Italy, which could involve the Chambers of Commerce, banking foundations and associations representing companies producing goods and services. The fundamental role they play in the processes of internationalization of the national production system and in the promotion of Made in Italy on international markets, makes these organizations and the dense network of organizations and associations that belong to them, interested parties to the economic information provided by this publication.
An important contribution of the Report is to provide up-to-date data on Mediterranean countries. At the intersection of 3 continents, the Mediterranean does not appear systematically in any database and it is not easy to access the main economic indicators concerning the region. The data collection work that has been done over the years by the various contributors of the Report is systematised and made available in the yesr editions. A series of statistical data is already available in the Mediterranean Economies Database of the ISSM.