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Marseilles, a Euro-Mediterranean hub?




The Vauzelle report suggests making Marseille the centre of France's Mediterranean policy, with the relocation of more Mediterranean institutions to the city.



Michel Vauzelle wants to make Marseille the centre of Mediterranean policy in France (photo F.Dubessy)
Michel Vauzelle wants to make Marseille the centre of Mediterranean policy in France (photo F.Dubessy)

MEDITERRANEAN. The Vauzelle report on the Mediterranean, presented to François Hollande on 9 October 2013, lists nine proposals to build a “Mediterranean of projects” capable of (re)creating the conditions for a shared destiny.
 
Some of the proposals, such as a Mediterranean Erasmus scheme, are of international significance, while others focus on domestic policies in the region.
 
Such is the case for the 8
th proposal in the list, which states that Marseille should become the "centre of France's Mediterranean policies", through the gathering of Mediterranean institutions such as the Mediterranean department of AFD (the French development agency) or the inter-ministerial delegation to the Mediterranean there. Marseilles is already home to the Institute for Developmental Research , the Marseille Centre for European Integration, the Office of Economic Cooperation for Mediterranean and the Middle East and the Mediterranean branches of United Cities and Local Governments and the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe, and would become, according to Michel Vauzelle, a euro-Mediterranean “hub”. The MP for Bouches-du-Rhône and President of PACA wants Marseille, which is also home to the Villa Méditerranée and the MuCEM, to be better able to face "competition", which in the light of increasing globalisation, is "shaking up the leader board of the major Mediterranean cities".


Involving the people

According to the French President, the Vauzelle report will underpin the revival of France's Mediterranean policy, following the failure of the Union for the Mediterranean, set up by Nicolas Sarkozy. It remains to be seen which policies will be carried forward by François Hollande (photo Office of the French President)
According to the French President, the Vauzelle report will underpin the revival of France's Mediterranean policy, following the failure of the Union for the Mediterranean, set up by Nicolas Sarkozy. It remains to be seen which policies will be carried forward by François Hollande (photo Office of the French President)

Researcher Jean-Robert Henry, a specialist in inter-Mediterranean relations, sees the importance of capitalising on Marseille’s institutional assets. He has two suggestions. The first relates to geography.
 

“We need to think about presenting a Mediterranean front, he suggests, and involve Aix-en-Provence and Montpellier. Aix is a leading centre for education and research in humanities and social, with several Mediterranean-related organisations. Through Agropolis International, Montpellier has huge expertise in everything related to agriculture and food in the Mediterranean and is building a museum on the history of France and Algeria which may have an impact on post-conflict transformation and memory.”
 

The second suggestion is to bring about change from the bottom up. "Marseille has an extraordinary asset: its diverse community, an aspect recognised by Michel Vauzelle when he wrote about the city's "sociological make-up" and "rich diasporas”. But we need to learn from them. For example, by making it easier for students to move between the North and South banks. Some of the report's suggestions go in this direction, but Marseilles can already lead the way. It could look at the old idea of setting up a Franco-North African high school. It is important to base culture on human reality.”



Mathieu Bouchard


Wednesday, October 30th 2013



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