Relations within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean
The Conference of EU and Mediterranean Foreign Ministers in Barcelona (27-28 November 1995) marked the start of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, also known as the "Barcelona Process“. This was launched with the aim of ”turning the Mediterranean basin into an area of dialogue, exchange and co-operation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity“. It was also meant to support the Middle East peace process by furthering the spirit of compromise of the parties, reflecting the hopes of the time following the Oslo treaties; but it was not intended to be a forum for the resolution of the conflict. In 2008, it was renamed “Union for the Mediterranean” and restructured: a co-presidency was introduced (one EU member state and one Mediterranean partner), and a joint Secretariat with its seat in Barcelona was agreed.
The Union represents a broad framework of political, economic, socio-cultural and judicial relations between the Member States of the EU and the 16 Mediterranean Partners (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey). Libya is an observer.
In terms of implementation of the partnership, the Mediterranean partners are linked to the EU through bilateral Association Agreements. These provide a framework for bilateral political dialogue, for furthering trade and investment, for strengthening co-operation in the economic, social, cultural and financial fields and for enhancing regional integration. Standard clauses on the respect of democratic principles and fundamental human rights (such as defined in the General Declaration on Human Rights), on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and on countering terrorism constitute essential elements of these Agreements.
The planned establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Zone – targeted for 2010 – is aimed at promoting economic development on both sides of the Mediterranean as well as trade between the Mediterranean partners (“horizontal” or “south-south” integration). Another goal is the strengthening of co-operation on cross-border affairs such as the integration of infrastructure or the harmonisation of technical standards. Finally, the Association Agreements contain a range of social, cultural and financial aspects in the spirit of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.
Institutionalised co-operation is of particular importance in the Union for the Mediterranean. Foreign Ministers meet once a year, Heads of State and Government every two years. Sector ministerial meetings as well as regular contacts between the EU member states, the European Commission and the partners on officials’ level secure a permanent dialogue along the lines prescribed in the Association Agreements and Action Plans. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) represents the parliamentarian dimension of the partnership. Following decisions in 2008, a permanent secretariat of the “Union for the Mediterranean” will be established in Barcelona, Spain.
On 27 and 28 November, 2005, a summit was organised on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona declaration. The summit adopted a five year work programme and a code of conduct on countering terrorism. The programme is comprehensive and encompasses many areas of co-operation such as dialogue between cultures, youth and education, democratic development and administrative reform, fighting radical and racist tendencies, economic development and transition, protection of the environment, migration, countering international terrorism, conflict prevention, disarmament and security policy.
In order to further inter-cultural and people-to-people contacts, the “Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures” was founded in 2004 and took its seat in Alexandria, Egypt. The foundation, named after the former Foreign Minister of Sweden, supports NGOs, connects civil society organisations from North and South in a “network of networks”, furthers intellectual exchange and has also contributed to the visibility of the partnership.