The Mediterranean is a space of relations and, simultaneously, a border between cultures, civilisations and economic systems. Those elements of fragmentation and conflict that scatter the history of the Mediterranean have also facilitated, over time, the development of dense trade relations and intense cultural exchanges. It is true that in recent decades, divergent growth paths in the two shores of the basin have widen the gaps in terms of demographic growth, socio-economic development and quality of institutions, yet a longer-term perspective identifies clear and solid elements of homogeneity and common features among Mediterranean regions. Hence, in the long run those differences causing imbalances and disharmony may contribute to generate complementarity and spur growth and development for all countries in the area. For this to occur, however, one needs targeted policy interventions, the willingness to cooperate and collaborate among national governments, the involvement of European institutions and the rethinking of the objectives and instruments of the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean Policy.
The mission of the Institute of Studies on Mediterranean Society is to study the dynamics and nature of the growth and development processes of the countries in the area. The regional focus hinges on the strategic centrality of the Mediterranean, both geo-economic and political. At the intersection of three continents, this sea is the centre of gravity of trade in goods, energy resources, men and technology between North and South and between East and West. On a geopolitical level, the dialogue between Europe and the Mediterranean is essential to support the closely linked political transition taking place in the countries on the southern shore, the fight against terrorism and the management of migration flows. The reading of such a complex and rapidly evolving reality requires multidisciplinary analyses that intersect historical, economic, geographical and sociological models and methodologies with the aim of understanding the each country short and long term growth trajectories. Such dynamics, in fact, have peculiarities that can hardly emerge from analyses focused on individual countries or micro areas. The ultimate aim is to provide explanation of phenomena, projections on possible future scenarios and policy guidelines that can support targeted interventions to reduce imbalances and stimulate growth in the area.
The research activities are based on a number of fundamental thematic axes which, by enhancing the Institute's scientific expertise, aim to describe different aspects of the Mediterranean countries by means of
- the analysis of development processes and regional dualism, which sees the functional dependence between poor and rich areas;
- the comparative and prospective analysis of governance and institutional building processes and their functioning in the European and Euro-Mediterranean context;
- the study of the territory, environment and landscape as factors of development and stability;
- the study of trade flows and logistics;
- the study of migration and socio-cultural phenomena.