Tag Archives: Aix-Marseille University

World Health Day: FEMISE initiative to face COVID-19 in the Mediterranean

The coronavirus crisis threatens our health and, as a result, it also hurts our societies and our economies. But it offers us an opportunity to rethink our priorities and systems, to make them sustainable, inclusive, in line with the SDGs.

FEMISE contacted its researchers and partners but also young people from the Mediterranean, to remind everyone why investing in Health should be a priority. Protecting vulnerable populations who do not have access to medical care, ensuring better access to health information in countries where internet access remains limited, supporting the work done by women in the health sector, betting on education and human capital…

The Mediterraneans mobilized by FEMISE share their views in the above video.

with : Constantin Tsakas, Mohammad Abu-Zaineh, Leila Berrada Mnimene, Mariam Fadel, Raphaël Colombier, Karine Moukaddem, Myriam Ben Saad, Jamal Bouoiyour

Med Change Makers e08 : Vera DANILINA, Green Public Procurement Vs. Environmental taxation: potential for EuroMed environmental cooperation


FEMISE launched in 2018 its series of interviews called « Med Change Makers ».

« Med Change Makers » are text and video-based interviews that allow dynamic researchers of the FEMISE network to illustrate how their research addresses a policy-relevant question and how it contributes to the policy-making process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.


Green Public Procurement Vs. Environmental taxation: potential for euro-mediterranean environmental cooperation

Interview with Vera Danilina, Aix-Marseille Université and FEMISE

Environmental issues are among the priorities of FEMISE research / action. In the Mediterranean, the consequences of climate change will always be stronger than elsewhere. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation needs of bordering countries are more than ever necessary.

Author of a FEMISE MED BRIEF, Vera Danilina focuses on environmental taxation and green public procurement (GPP). She provides a comparative analysis of their effectiveness and reveals the opportunities for harmonized environmental policy between countries. Her results suggest specific implications for environmental collaboration between EU countries and those of the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). Interview :

1. Your recent FEMISE Brief is focused on the comparison between GPP and environmental taxation. What are these two policy instruments and why do you focus on them ?

The first instrument is Green Public Procurement and is related to the process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods and services with reduced environmental impact. Accordingly, it corresponds to their initiative to consume eco-friendly products. This policy instrument is relatively new: within the EU the importance of GPP was stressed in 2003 when the member states were urged to adopt national plans for greening the public purchasing policy. Despite the relatively slow development of GPP, 55% of the contracts signed by European public authorities in 2009/10 included at least one EU core GPP criterion.

The second instrument, which is the environmental tax, targets directly the negative impact of production. Nowadays, in the EU-28 such taxes account from 30-50% (UK, Belgium, Italy, Denmark) to 60-80% (Germany, France, Norway) and even to 80-100% (Spain, Liechtenstein) of all key environmental policy instruments in use. Environmental taxation accounts for 2.4% of the EU-28’s GDP varying from 0.77% in Liechtenstein to 4.14% in Denmark.

Why focus on these two policy instruments? First of all, because they belong to alternative approaches to regulation that feature mandatory vs. voluntary participation and direct vs. indirect influence. The second reason is that while environmental tax can be considered as one of the most or even the most widely used policy instruments, the expansion of GPP is much more modest. But at the same time, GPP has been constantly high on the policy agenda of different countries since 1970s that shows its expected potential in the environmental policy development. Thus, the main reason to choose taxes and GPP for our analysis is to investigate the pros and cons of a traditional and a relatively innovative policy instrument exploring their possible complementarity or/and substitutability.

2. Are economic instruments for environmental policies widespread in Mediterranean countries of the South shore and why (not) ? Are there South-Med success-stories ?

The South-Med countries are mostly focused on the environmental taxation as the more transparent and straightforward instrument: it represents from 64% (Israel) to 100% (Egypt, Tunisia) of key environmental policy instruments toolkits. Meanwhile, in the majority of countries they represent a relatively modest share of GDP. At the same time in Israel green taxes account for 3% of GDP and 2% – in Morocco which is in line with European practices.

Public purchasing accounts for around 18% of GDP within the MENA region indicating a significant potential to influence markets and industries. Green procurement is not widely developed though. However, we would mention such countries as Israel, Egypt, Morocco and United Arab Emirates as leaders in GPP movement. According to the Ecolabel Index, there are up to 20 eco-labels in each of these countries including such nationally developed green standards as “Green Star” label for the responsible tourism in Egypt or a multi-industrial Israeli Green Label. These countries have also launched a range of governmental programmes supporting eco-innovations.

In general, environmental regulation is not well-developed in the South-Med countries. Among the reasons we would mention a wide range of social and economic problems that seem to be more urgent. At the same time we observe the development of environmental policies that indicates the growing understanding of their importance.

3. How can environmental policies and instruments in the South Med co-exist with the social and economic difficulties these countries are facing ?

It is well-known that the South Med region experiences a wide range of social and economic difficulties that might seem to be much more important than ecological threats. At the same time, the costs of environmental degradation for this region ranges from 2-3 % of GDP in Tunisia, Jordan, and Syria, to 5-7 % of GDP in Egypt and Iran. These figures are impressive. They assure that without developing green policy, the South Med countries risk to deepen not only the ecological problems but also the social and economic difficulties.

Moreover, focusing on economic development without corresponding environmental restrictions could potentially aggravate environmental degradation worsening the quality of life of the population. As an example, we would particularly stress health problem that can drastically reduce GDP. The link between environment, health, and GDP is potentially strong in the absence of environmental regulation and in the presence of “basic” threats such as car emissions, for example, that most directly affect the population.

4. How important is the coordination of environmental policies across South Mediterranean countries and why ? What direct and indirect benefits ?

Our research urges for the policy harmonisation across trading countries. We see this strategy as a first-best or a “win-win” option that allows the actors to coordinate their environmental efforts without implicating any disproportional burden to any of them.

Otherwise, the countries who focus more on the environmental regulation could be demotivated by the return effect of international trade. Thus, the country who opts for more severe environmental taxation wins from trade integration with the country who introduces GPP or lower taxation. In the literature this phenomena corresponds to a “pollution haven effect” by which trade integration makes polluting industries move from countries with more severe to countries with less severe environmental regulation, while not necessarily leading to the reduction of global environmental degradation. If all countries opt for the GPP policy, the more environmentally virtuous country whose government spends more on green goods faces purchasing power decline while the less environmentally virtuous country whose government is less generous in environmental spendings gains. In our research we call this result a “paradox of virtue”.

Last but not the least is the argument of trade and environment complementarity. When environmental policies are identical both in their type and stringency, trade integration leaves the environmental degradation level unchanged but incurs an increase in purchasing power across trading countries.

Consequently, on the side of direct benefits of policy harmonisation we would mention environmental degradation decline and the equality of the policy burden. Talking about the indirect effect, we definitely stress the positive effects of the regulation to the business traditions as well as consumer preferences. Even more, harmonised policy implies the harmonisation of eco-standards across countries that simplifies the cross-country cooperation, joint ventures development, and public control.

5. How can collaborating with the EU, within the framework of EuroMed cooperation, provide answers to environmental concerns ?

The EU is known for its well-developed system of environmental regulation that can be seen as one of the examples to spread to the South-Med countries. Both the public and the private institutions of the EU contribute to the system of eco-labelling and eco-certification, influencing the choice made by consumers and enterprises. Thus, Germany and Austria are the pioneers of GPP programmes. Since 2008 the European Commission has developed more than 20 common GPP criteria covering a wide range of sectors.

The EU has also proposed criteria of two different types, core and comprehensive. Core criteria address the key ecological impacts and are easy to get verified while comprehensive criteria are stricter and more complex requiring additional verification efforts. The variety of criteria guarantees the flexibility of the GPP strategy that can be tailored to the needs of a particular industry and country.

6. Are there other frameworks of cooperation (regional, bilateral) that can benefit the South ?

We particularly stress coordinated GPP as a form of cross-country environmental support. Our research shows that GPP can be related to the environmental support across countries when one can be a donor, and another one – a recipient. A country that has higher financial and institutional capacity to develop GPP can increase its green public spending allowing a country that has lower financial and institutional capacity to develop GPP to benefit from the green demand of the partner country. Donors are in the position to set the standards and quality control that allows to diminish or even avoid greenwashing and, at the same time, propagate the corresponding ecological standards to the recipient. By getting accepted, the environmental criteria system could uniform the rules for companies in all participating countries facilitating their access to the markets and diminish the environmental degradation. This approach could be considered for the collaboration of EU and MENA countries in order to strengthen the environmental policies in the latter and establish a first step towards the harmonisation of green policy approaches.

7. What is your top-recommendation for South Med officials ?

First of all, we recommend the wide implementation of GPP as an efficient approach to environmental policy design. Despite being a voluntary tool, it can motivate firms to opt for green technologies even when the only incentive is originated from the government. The effect can be amplified by taking into account the consumers eco-biased demand that, in its turn, can be boosted by the corresponding public policy. At the same time, GPP is not risk-free: the absence of public monitoring can diminish the positive effect of the policy approach allowing firms to greenwash, or cheat on the environmental quality of their products. Accordingly, a corresponding monitoring policy is required.

Second main recommendation is to opt for the long-term environmental policy harmonisation even across countries with different level of economic and institutional capacity to introduce symmetric policy instruments.

The coordination of environmental policies is of particular importance for the South Mediterranean countries in view of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (the UN, 2015), as well as for two following reasons. First, a relatively low share of intra-regional trade with the EU which is expected to increase due to the current policy agenda of the Euro-Mediterranean trade partnership. Thus, further trade liberalisation will increase the opportunities for cross-region cooperation and an environmental policies harmonisation could be key to avoid the above mentioned “pollution haven effect”. Second, the decline in economic growth in the MENA region that could potentially be partially restored with the contribution of a deeper trade integration. At the same time the environmental degradation increase that might correspond to economic growth can be mitigated by the environmental policies coordination.

Interview by Constantin Tsakas

This activity received financial support from the European Union through the FEMISE project on “Support to Economic Research, studies and dialogues of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. Any views expressed are the sole responsibility of the speakers.

FEMISE MED BRIEF no15 : « Is informality an irrevocable obstacle to Universal Health Coverage ? »

Mohammad Abu-Zaineh, Bruno Ventelou, Khaled Makhloufi

The FEMISE Policy Brief series MED BRIEF aspires to provide Forward Thinking for the EuroMediterranean region. The briefs contain succinct, policy-oriented analysis of relevant EuroMed issues, presenting the views of FEMISE researchers and collaborators to policy-makers.


The latest MED Brief on ” Is informality an irrevocable obstacle to Universal Health Coverage (UHC)? Evidence from Tunisia” is available here.

Summary In many developing countries and in particular in the context of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, large fractions of the population are deprived of access to any social security system, mainly because they are working in the informal sector. This paper shows that even among the most precarious workers, the willingness-to-pay for a health insurance system is substantial but varies according to the three different healthcare insurance plans proposed in the survey (giving access to public provider, to private providers, or reimbursement), associated or not with a pension scheme. This suggests that informality, by and in itself, is not an incurable impediment behind the achievement of the UHC goal in Tunisia as long as appropriate insurance plans are offered to the uncovered populations.

The list of FEMISE MED BRIEFS is available here.

The policy brief has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union within the context of the FEMISE program. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Assessing the Macroeconomic and Welfare Effects of Universal Health Coverage in Palestine

The implementation of “Universal Health Coverage” (UHC) poses serious challenges. Some of these stem from the macro-fiscal space considerations while others relate to the micro-behavioral sphere.

This project seeks to assess the macro-fiscal conduciveness of UHC-oriented reforms in Palestine using a dynamic microsimulation-based Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) approach. Overall, UHC-oriented reform appears to enhance social welfare and economic growth. However, a parallel expansion in the breadth and width of coverage can have a sizeable budgetary impact, with fiscal deficit representing 14% of the GDP, of which about 2% is due to UHC. The latter would absorb about 10% of GDP, 15% of public spending and 57.4% of public spending on health. Under conditions of narrow fiscal space, an additional annual growth of 3.0% is required to progress along all the dimensions of UHC. A set of policy measures, which can help achieve UHC in a financially sustainable manner is advanced.

Med Change Makers e02 : Simona RAMOS, Climate-Induced Migration: Issues and Solutions

FEMISE recently launched its new series of interviews called « Med Change Makers ».

« Med Change Makers » are text and video-based interviews that allow dynamic FEMISE researchers to illustrate how their research addresses a policy-relevant question and contributes to the policy-making process in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Med Change Makers e02 : Simona RAMOS, Climate-Induced Migration: Issues and Solutions

Interview with Simona RAMOS, Aix-Marseille Université (France), Institut de la Méditerranée and FEMISE

Simona RAMOS, Aix-Marseille Université (France), Institut de la Méditerranée and FEMISE

The latest edition of the ENERGIES2050 / Institut de la Méditerranée / FEMISE report “The challenges of climate change in the Mediterranean” provides insight into the specific place of the Mediterranean basin in the new International Climate Agenda.

Simona Ramos (Aix-Marseille University (France), Policy Researcher at Institut de la Méditerranée / FEMISE) contributed to the report by studying the link between “Migration and climate-change in the countries of the southern Mediterranean”.

In this interview, Simona Ramos offers avenues for political reflection to deal with the continuing effects of climate-induced migration.

  1. Regarding implementation efforts of the Paris Agreement which country/countries in the South Med region are examples to follow and why?

Countries in the South Med region do differ in their progress towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Morocco and Israel are considerably ahead in terms of policies and actions. At the core of Morocco’s current emissions reduction efforts stands the National Energy Strategy, which aims to extend the share of renewable electricity capacity to 42% by 2020 and to 52% by 2030. Morocco has demonstrated policy-in-action, with massive investment on solar energy debuting with the construction of the giant Noor solar complex (using concentrated solar power) near Ouarzazate. On the other hand, Algeria, Tunisia and Palestine, seem to be willing to take more valiant measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change although they also face serious constraints. For example, in terms of legislation, Tunisia became one of the few countries to recognize climate change in its Constitution, even though climate related policies in the country have still a long way to improve.

  1. You suggest that there has not been enough cooperation among South-South countries. Why is this so important and what are your suggestions in this regard?

Indeed, one of the key problems that South Med countries are facing is the lack of mutual collaboration in the implementation of their climate-based policies. A solid South‐South collaboration could foster significant improvement in the implementation of South Med policy implementation in terms of climate change. Cooperation can assist in mutual capacity building in the realm of research and development. Also, technological and know-how transfer can be fostered through Legislative and Institutional frameworks (ex. by developing technology transfer frameworks and enabling environments to integrate technology transfer policies at the national levels). The potential of South-South cooperation is vast and as such should be seriously taken into consideration.

  1. How do climate processes affect human migration? Has anything been done at the national policy level in this regard within SMCs?

Climate processes seriously affect human migration. Nevertheless, it can be argued that this topic doesn’t receive proper attention as contrary to climatic events, climatic processes occur in a gradual and cumulative way, and as such establishing a strict causal relation is difficult. Nevertheless, the effect of climate change on populations can operate in multiple ways. Water, food and land availability can be seriously affected and populations can be forced to migrate from affected areas. The South Med region has been among the most climatically affected regions worldwide, with sea level rise and desertification occurring on an ongoing basis. With regards to policy, what has been done so far has to do more with adaptation and mitigation measures (often as part of countries’ NDCs or NCs). Nevertheless, it can be argued that these measures do not necessarily tackle and/or fully address climate induced (forced) human migration.

  1. You state that current policy measures fail to fully address the ongoing effects of climate induced migration. Why and what are your policy suggestions to address the ongoing effects of climate induced migration in the South Mediterranean countries?

Although it can be strongly argued that current policy measures and climate based strategies are crucial with regards to climate change improvement, they are not expected to fully address the spectrum of climate change consequences, such as the one of “climatic processes-induced migration”. This is due to several reasons. Mitigation, adaptation as well as capacity building and technology transfer strategies take time to be implemented, which means that the millions of presently affected people are not likely to immediately benefit from these measures. Also, in order for these strategies to be effective, a global consensus is needed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as recent history has shown.

One of the policy recommendations in this regard would be to incorporate climate-induced migration under the international legal framework, as an adaptation strategy rather than as a failure to adapt. In this case, having a legal status for ‘climatic migrants” would properly address and protect people crossing bothers. Other suggestions include using “planned re-alocation”, an approach that has often been incorporated in cases of natural disasters. Many have favored this approach because it usually takes place within the borders of the country, allowing for higher flexibility and avoiding the complexity of requiring international agreements.

  1. How can re-allocation measures be used to address people affected by climate induced migration?

Planned re-allocation strategies can be complex and difficult to implement especially if a country lacks institutional, technological and financial capacity.

  • At first, there should be an early identification of populations exposed to disasters and other impacts of climate change or affected by mitigation and adaptation projects associated with climate change. A National Mapping of such populations needs to be systematized and publicly shared to maximize awareness-raising.
  • Planning for relocation should be integrated within the national strategies and requires the creation of an enabling environment, including a legal basis for undertaking planned relocation, capacity-building, institutionalization, and a whole-of-government approach.
  • The sustainability of planned relocation should be assured through adequate attention to site selection, livelihoods, integration (identity and culture), and host communities, among other factors.
  • Independent, short and long-term, quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation systems should be created to assess the impacts and outcomes of planned relocation.
  1. What is the Green Wall Project and what are its implications and potential for South Mediterranean countries?

Planned relocation should be an option of last resort as it is a complex and expensive process. It is necessary to enable improvement in the living conditions of areas affected by climate change. One of the most prominent projects in this regard is the Great Green Wall, an African led initiative to green the desert (by growing more plants and trees) with a goal of providing food, jobs and a future for millions of people who live in regions that are affected by climate change.

The inability to make a living from the land can be an important push factor for migration. Greening areas that are currently scarcely populated and not able to fully sustain human necessities could bring multiple benefits as i. people already living in those areas wouldn’t be forced to move and ii. these areas could also serve as potential place for reallocation for people in neighboring affected zones. Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia are already partners within this project and could serve as an example to other SMCs.

Interviewed by Constantin Tsakas