Since 1995, the EU and several Mediterranean Partner Countries (MPCs) have cooperated to shape trade policies. However, it has recently become clear that traditional trade liberalisation approaches have not been enough to provide sustainable economic development. The EU-funded 'Sustainable agri-food systems and rural development in the Mediterranean Partner Countries' (SUSTAINMED) project investigated local and EU policies in the fields of agriculture, poverty prevention, sustainability, food security and trade. Researchers focused on Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, as well as Turkey, an important non-MPC. Studies into poverty revealed that the situation has improved over the last two decades, but remains a persistent and significant problem in these countries. Researchers also found that poverty had a knock-on effect on all other sectors studied. SUSTAINMED furthermore determined that policies were generally skewed to cater to economic sustainability concerns, while disregarding resource management, conservation efforts and social aspects. In order to study the effects of trade liberalisation policy, researchers used the Global Value Chain Analysis approach. They concluded that efforts need to be focused on improving the value of goods rather than decreasing cost of production. These and other findings were communicated through a series of workshops and seminars, and will be summarised and published in a book. SUSTAINMED will help both EU and MPC policymakers create relevant policies with regards to rural development and sustainability.
Policy, Mediterranean Partner Countries, rural development, trade, sustainability