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PRESS RELEASE

Eurosystem and Mediterranean central banks meet for Euro-Mediterranean seminar

9 February 2005

The second Euro-Mediterranean seminar, which brings together Eurosystem and Mediterranean central banks, was jointly organised by the Banque de France and the European Central Bank (ECB) and held in Cannes on 8 and 9 February 2005.

Participants were welcomed by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the ECB, and Christian Noyer, Governor of the Banque de France. The seminar was attended by governors and high-level representatives of the entire Eurosystem, including Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, member of the Executive Board of the ECB, as well as by governors of the central banks of Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian National Authority and Tunisia. The seminar was also attended by representatives of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.

The Eurosystem attaches great importance to international contacts and exchanges of views with other central banks at the global level, and its relationship with the central banks of the Mediterranean region is no exception. This Euro-Mediterranean seminar was the second at the level of central bank governors. The first meeting was held in Naples in January 2004 and initiated a multilateral dialogue between Eurosystem and non-euro area Mediterranean central banks. This second seminar clearly showed the enthusiasm for turning these meetings into a regular series as a forum for pursuing an active and ongoing dialogue with the central banks of Mediterranean countries.

This year’s seminar focused on recent economic and financial developments in the Mediterranean countries, workers’ remittances and central bank independence.

Recent economic and financial developments in the Mediterranean countries

Seminar participants underlined the robustness of economic performance in the Mediterranean region during 2004, a year characterised by vigorous growth, low inflation and progress in financial sector reform in several countries. Nevertheless, participants also agreed that the Mediterranean region still faces economic challenges, in particular high unemployment and, in some cases, substantial fiscal deficits. Against this background, they also exchanged views on the need to further encourage structural reforms in order to raise the region’s growth potential.

Workers’ remittances and their effect on convergence between the euro area and the Mediterranean countries

Seminar participants pointed out the beneficial effects of workers’ remittances for the economies of the Mediterranean region. They stressed that enhancing the effectiveness of the banking sector and the reliability of payment systems should also help to make money transfers more efficient. They also discussed efforts and initiatives to maximise the beneficial effects of workers’ remittances on investment and growth.

Central bank independence

The participants also exchanged views on central bank independence, its contribution to ensuring stable economic conditions and its implications for transparency and accountability.

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