12 Priorities for Action   

About the Conference

EU Med means Business – Shaping the future of entrepreneurship in the South


21 and 22 May 2019


21st May 2019: Hôtel de la Poste, Rue Picard  5 , 1000 Brussels

22nd May 2019: Sicco Mansholt room, Charlemagne building, Rue de la Loi 170, 1000 Brussels


100 participants including young entrepreneurs of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises from across 9 Arab countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine*, Jordan and Syria), meet in Brussels, Belgium with business journalists , economists, venture capitalists, business angles, investors and representatives of International financial institution.


The multi-stakeholder conference will be hosted by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, organised in cooperation with the Candid Foundation. The event will bring together young entrepreneurs, economic leaders and socio- economic change-makers, to consider the current business climate and recommend ways to promote entrepreneurship and investment in the European Union's Southern Neighbourhood.
'EU Med means Business' will provide a space for an open debate to address the major challenges, and identify obstacles to investment and entrepreneurship in the region. It comes at the right time to feed the ideas of young entrepreneurs into a policy cycle across the region at the level of the European Union.

Workshops descriptions
Investment and job creation - how to make it work

Attracting investment is key to stimulating economic growth and job creation in the Southern Neighbourhood. Improving the investment climate has been on the agenda of governments and donors for many years and countries have undertaken important efforts. Nevertheless, barriers to investment remain.
The workshop will discuss these barriers and how they can be tackled. Not all investments automatically generate jobs, and not all jobs generated are sustainable. How to ensure their quality and sustainability? Which conditions need to be in place to attract international as well as local investment? How can countries and companies be strategic by partnering with investors that bring industry expertise, managerial know-how, and linkages to local business to the table? Meanwhile, what do investors want to see when they consider an opportunity? What role does finance play?

Unleashing the entrepreneurial potential

Entrepreneurship is gaining momentum across the Southern Neighbourhood, contributing to economic growth, both in innovative areas and in the traditional economy. Yet, bureaucracy, lack of access to funding and limited cross-border co-operation are still holding back the momentum. How can the ecosystem be strengthened to unleash entrepreneurial potential, to allow start-ups to be set up and scaled up, and SMEs to thrive, expand and create jobs? What role can digitalisation play in increasing competitiveness and generating jobs? Can dialogue help entrepreneurs and governments improve business conditions? How can entrepreneurship flourish outside the main cities in rural areas, and be inclusive for youth, women and minority groups? Are new business models, which take wider needs of society into account, such as social entrepreneurship or the circular and green economy, part of the answer?

How to grow and retain talent - making young entrepreneurs fit for purpose

Today’s job market is changing rapidly, with technical, business and digital skills ever more in demand. Employers complain about a mismatch between skills needs, while universities and schools can be slow to respond to changing needs of the private sector. Is it just about talent or also about grooming a workforce for the challenges of a new economy in the digital age? How can this gap be bridged? What role can the private sector play? Many young entrepreneurs lack formal training to run a business. Which policies can help ensure that more young people are ready to join a workforce where innovation, new technologies and continuous learning are vital for the future? How can young talents now abroad be encouraged to contribute to innovation and growth in their home countries?

*This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.


09:00 am
Registration & welcome coffee


10:00 am
Opening session

moderated by Michael Köhler, Director for the Neighborhood South, DG NEAR, European Commission

  • Opening trailer on the EU and entrepreneurship in the Neighbourhood South
  • Keynote speech by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
  • Introduction to the conference themes by a young entrepreneur
10:45 am
Town hall debate - Bringing down barriers to investment and SME growth

includes exchanges with parallel local workshops in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco via web streaming

01:00 pm


02:00 pm

Discuss and develop recommendations in three parallel workshops:

  • Investment and job creation - how to make it work
  • Unleashing the entrepreneurial potential
  • How to grow and retain talent  - making young entrepreneurs fit for purpose
03:30 pm
Networking and coffee break


04:00 pm
Workshops continue
05:30 pm
End of day one
09:00 pm
Dinner and breaking the fast

(Palace Ballroom I & II, Crown Plaza Le Palace Hotel, Rue Gineste 3, 1210 Brussels)

10:30 am
Welcome coffee


11:00 am
Presentation and voting of recommendations opened by Christian Danielsson, Director-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations
12:30 am
Closing session - handover of recommendations and closing statement by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations

In the presence of Nasser Kamel, Secretary-General of the Secretariat of the Union for the Mediterranean and Christian Danielsson

01:00 pm
Family photo