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Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED)

The southern and eastern Mediterranean is the latest region in which the Bank is working to boost economic and democratic change.
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Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED)

The Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, known within the EBRD as SEMED, is the latest region in which the Bank is working to boost economic and democratic change.

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia have all asked to become EBRD countries of operation, requests which will require the Bank’s founding articles to be ratified accordingly.

The EBRD launched its first investments in Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco in September 2012 after they were granted the status of potential recipient countries, while the first project in Egypt was approved by the Board of Directors in December 2012.

All four nations, in their different ways, emerged from the events of the Arab Spring in 2011 with more accountable political systems and plans to reform their economies.

All of them will need to demonstrate their commitment to and observance of the principles of multiparty democracy, pluralism and market economics, as laid down in the Bank’s statutes.

The four countries, the European Council and the G8 in 2011 all called on the EBRD to extend its mandate to include the new region and apply the lessons learnt during the transition in central, south-eastern and eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and central Asia to the

Egypt and Morocco originally joined the Bank as shareholders in 1991. Jordan and Tunisia became members only at the end of 2011.

The EBRD and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED)

The EBRD is well placed to help the countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean make the transition to economic and political pluralism.

Indeed, the G8 has described the EBRD as ‘a unique instrument’ in its work in ‘Central and Eastern European countries engaged in the same dynamics’.

‘The changes underway in the Middle East and North Africa are historic and have the potential to open the door to the kind of transformation that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,’ the G8 declared in its statement on ‘the Arab Spring’ approved at Deauville in May 2011.

The strong support for the EBRD’s proposed mission in the SEMED region followed requests from Egypt and Morocco, already shareholders, to become countries of operation. Tunisia and Jordan asked to join the Bank as members soon afterwards.

Donors to the Bank, including the EU and the contributors of a SEMED Multi-Donor Account* supported the first phase of the EBRD’s involvement in the new region through technical cooperation activities in preparation of investment projects.

The Bank’s shareholders approved the creation of a €1 billion special fund to launch investments in the four countries at its Annual Meeting in London in May 2012.

The first investments in Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco were given the go-ahead in September 2012. The first project in Egypt was approved by the Board of Directors in December 2012.

Eventually, the EBRD expects to be able to invest up to €2.5 billion a year in the region.

It has already opened preliminary offices in all four countries, appointed Hildegard Gacek as its Managing Director in the region and hired new staff with local knowledge and experience.

But the EBRD’s expertise in managing transition is likely to be just as valuable in the years ahead as the financing it can unlock, both its own and that of other investors.

In its activity on the ground the Bank will focus on fostering growth of small and medium-sized enterprises, boosting agribusiness, improving banking services, creating local capital markets and supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The EBRD’s work reflects the aims of the Deauville Partnership, set up at the G8 summit in the French city in May 2011, which provides the countries involved with a framework for economic and political progress.

* MDA is funded by Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The EBRD’s Transition to Transition Initiative

The EBRD’s Transition to Transition (T2T) Initiative is a framework for the exchange of knowledge and experiences between its current countries of operation and the countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED).

The EBRD has acted as a facilitator and listener in the exchange, hosting a number of events in the SEMED region for figures in the public and private sectors and from think tanks to compare and contrast the lessons of transition.

Transition to Transition will also engage with a wider range of stakeholders as well as civil society as a whole in its efforts to involve those embarking on the change process. 

So far four events have been held as part of the initiative to encourage ‘peer-to-peer’ exchanges, one in each of the four SEMED countries: Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan.

Popular backing for change is vital for the success of any transition, Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, the former Polish prime minister, told the most recent conference in Jordan.

“It is important for politicians to have the support of citizens,” he said. “Otherwise reform is hard to push through.”

Among the themes that have emerged from the events have been the need to develop SMEs and create opportunities - and jobs - for broader segments of society.

Deauville Partnership

The Deauville Partnership is a multilateral initiative to support democratic and economic transition in the Middle East and North Africa.

Launched at the G8 summit held in the French town of the same name in May 2011, the Deauville Partnership backs political reform, notably improved governance and the fight against corruption, and sustainable and economic growth.

While set up by the G8 together with, originally, Egypt and Tunisia and later Morocco and Jordan, the Partnership is ‘global’, open to all countries in the region moving towards democracy, as well as IFIs, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society.

Multilateral development banks, such as the EBRD, have a special role to play within the Deauville Partnership. The G8 declaration launching the Partnership called on them to ‘deliver enhanced, frontloaded and coordinated support to Partnership Countries based on strong economic programs to strengthen governance and bolster the business climate’.

As for the EBRD in particular, the declaration noted its ‘financial strength‘ and drew a direct parallel between its work on transition in Central and Eastern Europe and ‘its focus on private and entrepreneurial initiative’ and the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’.

A later joint statement on the Deauville Partnership by several IFIs, including the EBRD, strongly backed the process but also underlined the economic challenges ahead.

‘International support should include not only development aid but also enhanced access to developed country markets,’ the September 2011 statement said. ‘This will be critical to avoiding aid dependency, building human capital and increasing the role of the private sector.’

It also stressed the need for action programmes ‘to be home-grown and driven by plans elaborated by the Partnership Countries themselves’.

The IFIs meanwhile approved a dedicated Deauville Partnership coordination platform to facilitate information sharing and mutual understanding, coordinate monitoring and reporting and identify opportunities for collaboration on financing, technical assistance and policy work.

Press releases

View all press releases on our work in Egypt.

View all press releases on our work in Jordan.

View all press releases on our work in Morocco.

View all press releases on our work in Tunisia.


The EBRD’s activities in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region - factsheet


Managing Director, SEMED: Hildegard Gacek


Where next for the Arab Spring? Learning from EBRD engagement in Eastern Europe, Thomas Mirow, 15 March 2012

From revolution to reform: lessons from the east for the Arab Spring, Thomas Mirow, 30 June 2011


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