[EN] Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Daniela Huber, and I'm head of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa program at the Institute Affari internationally in Rome.

In this short video, I'm presenting my contribution to the latest Anna Lindh Report on intercultural trends, in which I have focused on the social side of Euro Mediterranean cooperation and the issue of social trust in and between societies in particular. 

So why this topic, why social trust?

Social trust is the glue that holds societies together. But in the past years, there has been a trend of polarization within and between societies on all shores of the Mediterranean. 

In Europe, polarization has been driven by the rise of populist nationalist ethnocentric movements, which are based on exclusionary identities. In the Middle East and North Africa, polarization has included the mobilization of political, ethnic, or religious identities by various actors for political purposes. Such polarization on all sides undermines social trust, it might also affect trust between societies, as it reinforces boundaries between self and others rather than dialogue. 

At the same time, however, we are also seeing an opposing trend in both regions, namely new social movements and community building. In the Arab region, the ongoing Arab uprisings exemplify a socially political and economically encompassing imagination, of a new future towards self-determination, equal rights, and inclusive state-building. Also in Europe, new social movements such as Friday's for future, Me too, or decolonial movements imagine a shared and inclusive future based on equal rights and economic and environmental justice.

These movements have the potential for building generalized trust within and between societies. However, currently, it is not clear which trend but very prevail, and so I have analyzed the data of the last round of the Anna Lindh service pursuit in 2020.

There's few to what to indicate in terms of social trust. Let's first look at social trust within societies, but it is difficult to measure social trust with concrete parameters. The Anna Lindh data on perceptions about religious and cultural diversity do offer an approximation. In general, the data show much reason for optimism. Large and growing majorities in almost all countries surveyed see diversity as important for their societies prosperity, they do not perceive it as a threat to society stability, and agree that minorities should have the same rights and opportunities in their societies.

Furthermore, when moving from societies to building trust through Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, the data shows positive attitudes towards such cooperation across all shores of the Mediterranean, the south and east Mediterranean countries more positive about such cooperation than European countries. 

The top four areas for cooperation for education and training, economic growth and employment, environmental sustainability, and recognition of cultural diversity. In terms of barriers to cross-cultural encounters, there is consensus among south and east Mediterranean and European countries that language is the biggest barrier. 

In addition to that, for South and East Mediterranean countries, it is mainly visa difficulties and economic barriers, which matter, but for European countries, it is mainly social-cultural constraints and cultural tensions and conflicts throughout history, which are perceived as barriers. So while the data analyzed indicates that there is more reason for hope than concern, there are some challenging barriers which still need to be overcome. 

Intercultural dialogue remains crucial particularly also for the Europeans, which seem to perceive more contrary constraints than the south. For the seven countries surveyed, Visa and economic barriers to intercultural encounters are particularly concerning. 

This is corroborated by other research, which has shown that due to European migration and visa policies and a huge economic disparity between Europe and the Middle East and North Africa, the Mediterranean is increasingly perceived as a space of division, disparity, and separation in south and east Mediterranean countries. 

And these very real barriers necessarily need to be tackled, if we want intercultural dialogue to actually be.