Representatives of digital economy ministries pledged, during the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Ministerial Meeting here on Tuesday, to maximize benefits of the digital economy for Euro-Mediterranean citizens, consumers and businesses. They agreed to forge closer ties on the use of open data and e-government, and to step-up dialogue between national telecoms regulators around the Mediterranean, said a statement released after the meeting. They also agreed to improve connectivity between scientific and research communities and to work on a long-term eHealth cooperation strategy. EU Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "Today's agreement with our Southern Mediterranean neighbourhood and partner countries means we can share experiences and learn from each other in ways that are not always possible in other sectors." Dr. Azzam Sleit, Jordanian Minister of Information and Communication Technology, and Co-President of UfM commented: "It is widely recognized that the growth of the digital economy has a far-reaching impact on the whole economy, and this is attributed to the influence of ICT services have on all IT sectors, such as transportation, health education, environment and financial services." "Despite the promising potential that digital economy holds for us, there remains a set of challenges for which we need to find solutions," he added.
UfM Secretary-General Fathallah Sijilmassi stated: "The Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are a driving force for the modernization of both the private and public life, and thus, for the further development, integration and sustainable economic growth of the entire Mediterranean region." "The UfM Secretariat stands ready to actively participate in the cooperative initiatives outlined today and to move forward the agenda for the advancement of the digital economy," he said.
The previous Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was held in Cairo in February 2008.
The UfM itself was created in 2008 as a platform for political dialogue, coordination, cooperation and consensus building. It currently has 43 Members: 28 EU member states and 15 Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries. The European Union assumed the permanent northern co-presidency of the UfM in February 2012. Jordan assumed the southern co-presidency in June 2012.