7 out of 25 EU Member States are already from the Mediterranean region
Ferrero for adoption of EU constitution before end of Irish Presidency
Dublin, 6 May 2004 - In informal talks during the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) in Dublin today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Benita Ferrero-Waldner emphasised that the current historic enlargement of the EU is at the same time a southward enlargement. "Although Malta and Cyprus together only bring 1.26 million new citizens to the EU, it is in my view above all the symbolic value that is important in this respect: from the European perspective, the Mediterranean - a place where the East and West, Christianity and Islam, Europe, the Middle East and Africa meet - is now increasingly shifting into the centre. After all, this heterogeneous, conflict-laden region now provides 7 out of the 25 EU Member States".
Ferrero-Waldner stressed that this southward enlargement had moved the states of the Middle East and North Africa yet a further step closer to the EU and that these states were therefore also expecting more attention from Europe. "If this Union of 25 is to live up to these expectations, however, it will urgently require a Constitution in order to be able to function in an appropriately efficient manner, especially in the area of external affairs. At the time the EU constitution finally becomes a reality, we will already be a Union of 27. With so many Member States it will be increasingly difficult to achieve a compromise. Even in the EU of 15 it was hard enough to maintain our capacity to act; and now it will be considerably more difficult still", stated the Foreign Minister.
For this reason, Ferrero-Waldner has for months been pressing within the EU for the adoption of the EU constitution before the end of the current Irish Presidency. "As an EU of 25 we finally have to increase our competitiveness and our political capacity to act, especially in terms of foreign policy. However, we will succeed in doing so only if we have strong, integrative institutions in Brussels and self-confident Member States. And it is precisely this that forms the core of a European Constitution. The enlarged Union will succeed only if it is supported by a successful conclusion of the Constitution process. That is why the Constitution is in the interest of every single one of us", Ferrero-Waldner pointed out.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs expects to see a new impetus in the Barcelona Process, especially thanks to the accession of Cyprus and Malta to the EU. This Tuesday, the European Commission already promised 1.2 billion euros in financial aid for the region, which is to be made available to Israel and the Islamic states bordering the Mediterranean. In addition, aid to the region is to be better coordinated with the World Bank. "The aid package for 2005 and 2006 shows that the EU, despite the contemporary crisis, is adhering to its aim of creating a peaceful and progressive Mediterranean region. In order to achieve this goal it is more important to create impetus by initiating concrete projects instead of imposing conditions", concluded Ferrero-Waldner.