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Research Report

Union for the Mediterranean: Building on the Barcelona acquis

Roberto Aliboni
George Joffe
Erwan Lannon
Azzam Mahjoub
Abdallah Saaf
Álvaro de Vasconcelos
Copyright Date: May. 13, 2008
Pages: 32
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 6-7)

    The French-led initiative for the Union for the Mediterranean has relaunched the debate on the Barcelona Process - the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) - and on Euro-Mediterranean relations in a broader context. It is a debate that has made it possible to re-evaluate past achievements in Europe’s Mediterranean initiative and to identify what needs to be done to reinforce the original initiative - a very desirable development. The original French proposal for a Mediterranean Union had been confined only to the littoral states of the Mediterranean as those states most directly concerned in Mediterranean affairs. It had proposed an administrative structure...

  2. (pp. 8-15)

    It is important to bear in mind that common institutions and policies have been developed in the Mediterranean region for more than a decade already and that these achievements should not now be lost in any new initiative.

    The EMP is much more than a mere intergovernmental process of political cooperation. It is also about using the Community approach that was successfully applied to enlargement in developing Euro-Mediterranean relations.

    The Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, for example, establish an array of norms and standards with the objective of facilitating Euro-Mediterranean inclusion, although the enlargement of the Union is not envisaged in the...

  3. (pp. 16-20)

    A renewed BP-UM initiative should address a number of key challenges that the Barcelona Process has yet failed to solve, but which are nevertheless essential for the Mediterranean region.

    One of the main obstacles to the further development of the Barcelona Process has been the inability, on both shores of the Mediterranean, to deal with the growing political significance of Islamist forces in Southern countries. This was one of the great failures of the past and must be central to any debate on the future of the Process or over new initiatives associated with it, such as the Union for...

  4. (pp. 21-23)

    Another element of the new initiative that should be taken into account is linked to the proposals made regarding new institutional arrangements. As outlined above, the original proposal, put forward in Toulon and Tangiers in 2007, has undergone yet further mutation, as a result of the European Council meeting on 14 March 2008. Now it will involve all Union Member States and the South Mediterranean states as well. They will meet at a single conference in Paris on 13 July, presumably to discuss detailed plans for this new version.

    This, of course, is to completely abandon the original principles upon...

  5. (pp. 24-25)

    Another issue involves the kind of actions or programmes that would be promoted within the framework of the new initiative, and the extent to which they would complement ongoing projects.

    If the idea is to concentrate on a few specific actions in the fields of environment, finance and development, education and research, culture and society and non-military security issues, for example, there should be no major problems if the preconditions laid out above are respected and if appropriate care is taken to avoid overlapping with existing programmes. On the other hand, new initiatives could be considered as opportunities to reinforce...

  6. (pp. 26-26)

    The proposed funding method for the projects to be adopted by the Union for the Mediterranean, through an independent agency that would seek a mix of public and private sector funding on a project-by-project basis, sounds very similar to the Mediterranean Development Bank that Tunisia has long proposed and may well become a mechanism by which private investment by Mediterranean partners could be mobilised.

    The main issue with this, however, is that if, for example, private investment originating from the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States can be mobilised, those countries will expect to be involved in the implementation, monitoring and...

  7. (pp. 26-26)

    In what has been discussed above, we have tried to show that there are no easy solutions to the problems of building a Euro-Mediterranean community, for hard choices must be made by the European Union and its Southern partners alike. Those choices revolve around four main questions:

    i. What should the political focus of Mediterranean policy be?

    ii. How should the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation framework be structured?

    iii. How should security and reform be correlated?

    iv. How can migrants become full actors of the Partnership?

    Any response to these questions will also require responses to substantive and specific policy issues that...

  8. (pp. 27-28)

    Despite the tensions it raised in the European Union, President Sarkozy’s proposal for a Union for the Mediterranean certainly touched a sympathetic chord in the South Mediterranean region and even among some Southern European states as well. The main reason for this is that it promises Mediterranean partners the possibility of ownership of a shared policy, something which has not really hitherto been evident within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, despite its name. Within the European Neighbourhood Policy, given its bilateral nature, the issue does not arise in the same sense and the positive conditionality it involves, together with the way in...