Chapter 1: Economy and energy in Mediterranean countries
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The Mediterranean is an ancient crossroads comprising 25 countries that are part of the Middle East, North Africa, the European Union (EU) and candidate countries to the EU. There are large divides within the Mediterranean region not only with regard to population dynamics, but also from an economic perspective: the more affluent countries that are part of European Union, contrast with their developing counterparts on the eastern shores and especially those on the southern shores, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Morocco. However, because of the conflicts and serious unrest that began in 2011 with the so-called Arab Spring, in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa there has been a slowdown in growth rates. In Syria, as a result of the ongoing war, the economy has been devastated. Also in Libya, GDP per capita has further decreased, because of the unrest and political and economic instability that the country is still experiencing. Increasing population and economic development has led primary energy consumption in the Mediterranean region to more than double. North African and Middle Eastern countries have been affected by a sharp increase in energy consumption, triggered by consumer subsidies, which have caused overconsumption. The effects are levels of energy intensity higher than the worldwide average, and hence below-average energy efficiency. The gaps in per capita consumption levels are considerable. There is not only a divergence between the countries of the North and those of the South, but even within the individual areas the differences are considerable. However, the Gini index, calculated on per capita energy consumption of each Mediterranean country, confirms the reduction of the gap over time. The energy balance of the Mediterranean region is also dominated by fossil fuels, which make up 76 percent of total primary energy consumption. Indeed, the rapid growth of fossil fuel consumption in the developing countries of North Africa and the Middle East, has made the Mediterranean's share of renewable energy lower than its global counterpart.