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Inequalities are breeding social unrest in the Mediterranean




Slum settlements are spreading through the heart of Mediterranean cities, a sign of the growing population divide. The embers of social unrest are smouldering still. In terms of equality, the revolts of the Arab Spring have barely left a mark. In its 2013 annual report, Femise examines deepening inequalities in the Mediterranean and recommends strengthening social coherence by reducing territorial inequalities.



Femise reports a growth in inequalities in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey between 1995 and 2005. (Photo N.B.C)
Femise reports a growth in inequalities in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey between 1995 and 2005. (Photo N.B.C)
Even without accounting for the impact of the Arab Spring, the gap between the rich and poor is widening in the Mediterranean basin. The aspiration of younger populations to the same quality of life as Europeans is feeding a sense of injustice. Femise, the Euro-Mediterranean network of economic research institutes, reveals failings in terms of population inclusion. Political action has not succeeded in instigating economic progress.

The results of elections held since the uprisings have been swayed by inequalities. To offer the same chance of success to all Mediterraneans, regardless of their gender, place of residence or social background. This is the challenge that must be tackled in the years to come.

Although inequalities declined in the second half of the 1990s, the gap has been widening since the turn of the century. Femise reports a growth in inequalities in Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey between 1995 and 2005.
The rural exodus has only exacerbated divides.

Farmers living in cities without the qualifications required to work in an industry where the service sector is being marginalised are becoming impoverished; there are “increasingly striking inequalities within a limited space”, observes Femise.

The report advises improving medium-distance transport connections in order to solve the problem of isolation in certain peri-urban areas.

The vastness of desert regions has resulted in a concentration of population along coastlines. In Algeria, Egypt and Libya, 90% of the population lives on just 10% of the territory.

In certain countries population concentration has resulted in increased wealth. This is the case in the Turkish coastal city of Mersin, which has become a shipping and logistics hub. 
 
 
 

All is not equal

Increased decentralisation is imperative in order to broaden population involvement. (Photo N.B.C)
Increased decentralisation is imperative in order to broaden population involvement. (Photo N.B.C)
In Egypt, inequalities increased in the period 1995-2005, in particular in terms of education and health. Factor in gender, income and location and the inequalities become more striking still. In terms of access to employment, gender and age constitute the main inequality factors. Institutions, by continuing to have very centralised management in capital cities, are not helping to reduce the divides. Increased decentralisation is imperative in order to broaden population involvement.

Moving towards a decentralised system will reduce opportunity inequalities across national territories. Femise recommends giving more autonomy to policy makers and financial institutions and underlines the importance of developing an effective human resources strategy. In particular, attention needs to be directed toward the training, status and autonomy of locally-based staff.



Nathalie Bureau du Colombier, MARSEILLE


Monday, May 26th 2014



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