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EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP

 

The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has constituted the central framework for relations between the EU and its Southern Mediterranean partners for over ten years. In the 1990s, the EU started to draft a new Mediterranean policy, which was finalised at the Barcelona Conference (27–28 November 1995). As a result, the Barcelona Process or the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was launched, with the main objective of attaining long-term stability in this region. The Barcelona Process includes all EU Member States, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority; Albania and Mauritania joined at the beginning of November 2007. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is the only forum, aside from the UN, where Israel and the Palestinians sit at the same table. Libya has had observer status since 1999.


The Barcelona Declaration (1995) provided for three groups of objectives: establishing political and security, economic, and cultural and social partnerships.


The Summit marking the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process held in Barcelona on 27 and 28 November 2005 focused on the adoption of concrete decisions which were to lead to further development and strengthening of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Two documents were adopted – the Five Year Work Programme and the Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism. The Five Year Work Programme provided for the following: accelerating political dialogue and reforms, addressing regional and global threats to security and stability, supporting sustainable social and economic development, accelerating activities that might lead to the establishment of a free trade area, strengthening of activities for de-polluting the Mediterranean Sea, enhancing cooperation in the fields of education and culture, and comprehensively addressing migration issues. The Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism committed the countries to strengthening cooperation in the fight against terrorism.


Deriving from the Five Year Work Programme (until 2010), foreign ministers agreed to hold regular meetings at the end of every year to examine the work done in the past year and adopt a programme of activities for the following year. At the last conference of foreign ministers in Lisbon, Portugal, on 5 and 6 November 2007, the document “Lisbon Conclusions” was adopted, representing the programme of activities for 2008. This year will see ten meetings at the level of ministers (in the fields of information society, tourism, culture, health, employment, water management, industry, trade, finance and foreign affairs) and other activities.


The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership also assumes other more specific forms of cooperation. The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) was established in 2004. It is composed of 240 members (120 from the European Union – 75 from the national parliaments of the EU Member States and 45 from the European Parliament – and 120 from the Mediterranean partner countries). The EMPA is a consultative body; it adopts resolutions – recommendations of the Barcelona Process. The last plenary session was held in Tunis in March 2007. Greece took over the Presidency of the EMPA from Tunisia for a period of one year.


In 2005, the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures was established in Alexandria, which should become a catalyst for all initiatives aimed at enhancing dialogue and general understanding between cultures and promote bringing EMP countries closer in the field of culture. The financing is based on two sources: the EU budget and the contributions of members of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.


The EU encourages the Mediterranean partners to accelerate the adoption and implementation of free trade agreements, also with a view to meeting the objective of the Barcelona Declaration that provides for the establishment of a free trade area in the Euro-Mediterranean region by 2010. In February 2004, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia signed the Agadir Agreement (Agreement for the Establishment of a Free Trade Zone between the Arabic Mediterranean Nations). The Agadir Agreement and other free trade agreements between Barcelona Process partners are opening up new prospects for integration of Southern Mediterranean partners.


The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership has also developed other significant dimensions. The inclusion of economic, social and other representatives of civil society is vital for the successful development of cooperation in this area. Slovenia hosted the Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions in November 2006. The last meeting was held in Athens in October 2007.


The EuroMeSCo, a network of institutes for strategic studies, including institutes of all Southern Mediterranean partners and most EU Member States, also plays a visible role in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Its scientific research and contributions focus on topical political, security and economic aspects of the Mediterranean area and point to possible further policies.


Intercultural dialogue is a very important dimension of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The year 2008 was declared the Year of Intercultural Dialogue within its scope as well. In this context, the Slovenian government attaches great importance to the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean University based in Slovenia and appreciates the support provided for this project by all Euro-Mediterranean partners. The Government has set up the University Centre for Euro-Mediterranean Studies tasked with further activities that would pave the way for the establishment of the University (for more information, visit the web page http://www.emuni.si/).