Why Investment in Civil Society is an Investment in Economic Development: The Case of the Southern Mediterranean

October 2003


This paper highlights the important role of civil societies in Euro-Mediterranean cooperation to achieve the goal of economic prosperity, as formulated in the Barcelona Declaration. Complex and differentiated civil societies provide the environment for collective processes of endogenous learning and innovation, which are the pre-condition for economic competitiveness. The author of this Paper argues that Southern Mediterranean economies currently lack competitiveness and are likely to suffer an external shock, if the Euromed free trade zone comes into effect before the economic position of the SMPCs is strengthened substantially. Policymakers should seek out cooperation with civil society to solve important social and technical-economic problems. Euro-Mediterranean programmes and projects should continue supporting the activities of CSOs in Southern Mediterranean countries and issues of economic development and civil society should be explicitly linked in programming, wherever appropriate. EU initiatives aimed to strengthen the economic competitiveness of partner countries should continue.

circle graphic