“Green, blue and circular” v. “black” economic system for the Mediterranean?

“Heading towards a Greener Mediterranean” is the promotional slogan of the kick-off assembly for the launch of the INTERREG EURO-MED 2021-2027 program, to be held in Lisbon, on the twond of December 2021. https://interreg-med.eu/index.php?id=13352&L=0

“Green, blue and circular” are the primary pillars of the Economic Strategy of the EU for the present decade, enjoying a significant function within the implementation of the European Green Deal.

Blue Economy refers to marine-based or marine-related actions, both in established sectors, equivalent to marine living assets, marine non-living assets (fossil fuels) and so forth., or in rising and modern sectors, equivalent to new varieties of marine renewable power (i.e. ocean power), blue bio-economy and biotechnology, marine minerals, desalination and so forth.

In its new approach, the European Commission abandons the “Blue Growth” goal, utilized in the course of the earlier monetary interval (2014-2020), in favor of the “sustainable blue economy” idea. Economy and surroundings needs to be thought-about as a complete, whereas all financial actions within the sea ought to scale back their environmental impacts.


The EURO-MED program will finance, with a price range of 281M € in complete (pending last approval), actions related to the rising and modern sectors. These actions maintain certainly a big potential for the long run improvement of coastal and insular communities.

All different EU monetary devices for the brand new monetary interval in regards to the similar space, equivalent to ADRION (EUSAIR macro regional technique), Next-MED (European Neighborhood Policy) and INTERREG bilateral packages (Italy-France, Greece-Italy, Greece-Albania and so forth.), will most likely comply with this similar orientation.

The Plan Bleu report (2020), describes with crystal clear phrases the alarming scenario on the State of the Environment and Development within the Mediterranean. The report states amongst different that weak assets are below strain, that the basin is a hotspot of local weather change, and that its coastal zone concentrates and accumulates pressures and suffers from environmental degradation. https://planbleu.org/en/soed-2020-state-of-environment-and-development-in-mediterranean/

When talking of a semi-closed sea, all coastal States ought to share frequent values and apply the identical insurance policies so as to achieve frequent aims. It appears this isn’t the case within the Mediterranean, the place financial pursuits and political rivalries, together with armed conflicts territorial disputes and financial weaknesses, restrict alternatives for cooperation and customary actions.

The major query is due to this fact to look at if the long run European excessive investments, particularly from the EURO-MED program, can be enough to reverse and even affect the precise financial mannequin and realities within the Mediterranean basin.

Our evaluation will give attention to Energy manufacturing, an important however conflictual sector of blue economic system, the place the wrestle between standard and renewable power assets is predicted to be powerful.

In its communication on Blue economic system, the European Commission acknowledged that offshore Oil and fuel sector has been in decline for some years, due, in precept, to the Italian moratorium on offshore oil and fuel permits.  But is that this assumption legitimate for the Mediterranean offshore oil and fuel exploitation generally? What about nuclear power, which isn’t thought-about as a marine power useful resource however can have environmental impacts on used water and will deteriorate increasingly the ocean basin?

According to knowledge supplied by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Levant area of the Eastern Mediterranean — which incorporates Syrian coasts — holds a reserve of 1.7 billion barrels of oil and three.5 trillion cubic meters of pure fuel.

While Egypt pioneered the invention of offshore fuel with the Abu Qir subject in 1969, it was the beginning of drilling in deep waters in 2000 that opened a brand new horizon within the Eastern Mediterranean. To date, greater than two thousand billion cubic meters (bcm) of pure fuel have been found within the Egyptian sector of the Mediterranean Sea. And but, the Eastern Mediterranean stays under- or unexplored and has good prospects for extra reserves.

Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Israel within the Eastern Mediterranean are pursuing lively insurance policies on this energy-rich area whereas the U.S., Russia, the U.Okay., France and Italy search to keep up their affect within the area as properly.

Actually, after two severe financial and well being crises, the chance of provide safety and the rising oil and fuel costs, it could be moderately uncertain for Governments to disclaim to use the lately found “black gold”, favoring it over different “noble” and environmental-friendly assets. Country producers want the cash, giant petroleum corporations the revenue and Northern European international locations power safety, independence from Russian fuel and secure costs.

The potential function of the Eastern Mediterranean in diversifying Europe’s power sources turns into, due to this fact, vital. The East-Med pipeline undertaking would be the imply to switch Mediterranean fuel to Europe by way of Israel, Cyprus and Greece.

In these circumstances, it isn’t in any respect shocking that Turkish President Erdogan claims at any time the “Blue homeland”, as the primary aspect of the Turkish overseas coverage.

Plenty of specialists sound the alarm that the deliberate extraction of hydrocarbon deposits within the Eastern Mediterranean current a dramatic threat of irreversible ecological and socio-economic catastrophe on the sea, the productive land areas the place mining is deliberate, but additionally the viability of the international locations themselves. Other specialists take into account that hydrocarbons, and particularly fuel, are a part of the answer in the direction of the power transition and demand on the truth that efforts for analysis and discovery of latest deposits in addition to their exploitation have to be intensified.

International expertise has proven that in an space the place hydrocarbons are mined, accidents and common degradation are inevitable, regardless of strict environmental situations and prevention measures. It is then apparent that mining actions can’t coexist with the so-called blue and inexperienced actions.

Two latest typical examples illustrate the damaging results of onshore and offshore mining: Basilicata (Italy) and the Gulf of Mexico.

After almost thirty years of mining, Basilicata is now dealing with a dramatic environmental disaster, rising most cancers charges, a devastated agriculture and degraded tourism. As a consequence, the Italian Government has determined to droop any new utility for manufacturing concession by the tip of 2021.

In the Gulf of Mexico, the explosion at BP’s oil rig in 2010 spilled 5 million barrels of crude oil into the ocean. It took three months to shut the mining properly at a depth of 1,500 meters and cease the leak. The oil lined 180,000 km2 of sea and coast, from Texas to Alabama, whereas greater than 5,500 tons of poisonous chemical dispersants had been used.

Apart the doubts and worries for the exploitation of oil and fuel, a collection of considerations are expressed for the perform or the development of latest nuclear energy crops in numerous international locations across the Mediterranean. There are at the moment nuclear energy crops in Bulgaria, Romania, France, Spain and Slovenia, whereas such models are being deliberate in Turkey, Albania and Northern Macedonia.

Turkey envisages to assemble 4 nuclear reactors with a capability of 1.200MW, the primary in Akuyu, to be constructed by Rosatom, a Russian State-owned Atomic Energy Company.

Rosatom has additionally acquired a allow from the Egyptian Government to assemble a plant within the Dabaa space of ​​MarsaMatrouh, financed by Russia with a mortgage of 25 billion US greenback.

France owns fifty-eight nuclear reactors and about 80% of its power manufacturing relies on nuclear power. This share is the very best on the planet. France has one of many lowest electrical energy costs within the European Union and the bottom carbon dioxide emissions within the EU.

Nuclear power is due to this fact coming again once more as a method of transition to an economic system with zero carbon footprint, and regardless of dangerous experiences and accidents, many international locations, as for instance the UK and Japan, are additionally adopting this answer.

Ten Member States, (the Netherlands, Romania, the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary) led by France take into account that pure fuel and nuclear power can be utilized within the combat towards local weather change and requested to be acknowledged as such, within the so-called “taxonomy”.  On the opposite facet, Germany – which is locking its nuclear crops -, Austria, Luxembourg and different international locations are strongly resisting to that coverage. Some different international locations take into account that fuel needs to be solely a short lived answer, a bridge in the direction of the transition to inexperienced power, as it’s much less polluting than oil and though it nonetheless is a fossil gas.

According to present forecasts, in lower than a decade the planet may have decisively shifted from fossil fuels to RES and mild useful resource administration, with the primary drastic anticipated change is the know-how of automobiles that at the moment devour greater than half the world’s gas. In reality, a consequent discount within the value of oil is anticipated.

It stays to see if this forecast can be legitimate for the Mediterranean basin as properly, on condition that power can be produced in parallel by standard sources (fossil gas and nuclear) and by rising power renewables.

At the tip of the last decade, we’ll know if the European cash was used to save lots of the ocean or was misplaced within the sea.


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