Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

Arab countries complicate Med Union plan

  • A number of countries are making waves ahead of a summit set to launch the Mediterranean Union (Photo: EUobserver)

A number of Arab countries are worried that if they join the EU's planned Mediterranean Union together with Israel, it would imply a normalisation of bilateral relations, with the Algerian foreign minister stressing that an overall vision for the project still has to be agreed.

The Union for the Mediterranean was proposed by France last year to boost ties with the EU's southern neighbours – and to include Turkey in a political structure seen as an alternative to EU membership.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

In March, the bloc's leaders agreed on a final and softer version of the project which would include Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Albania.

Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Monaco would also take part.

But Arab countries on Friday (6 June) asked for "clarifications on the consequences" of Israel joining the so-called Mediterranean Union, AFP reports.

"The membership of Israel was among questions we discussed and clarifications were urged on this," Algerian foreign minister Mourad Medelci said after a meeting of Mediterranean foreign ministers in Algiers.

"The Mediterranean Union must not normalise [relations] between Israel and Arab countries…The process of normalisation with Israel is linked to other debates and commitments," he added.

In particular, the Algerian foreign minister referred to an Arab peace initiative from 2002, which calls for the Jewish state to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it occupied in 1967, before talking about normalisation of ties.

Other issues

The official Mediterranean Union launch is planned to take place at a summit in Paris on 13 July, when France will hold the EU's rotating presidency.

However, a number of questions remain unsolved for some of the participants only a month before the start date.

In addition to Israel's participation, clarifications on other issues including the new union's institutions, financing and decision-making are needed as well, Mr Medelci said.

Southern Mediterranean countries fear that Brussels will dominate the decision-making process and the "overwhelming majority" of the 11 states participating in Friday's meeting in Algiers remain unconvinced by the term 'union' itself.

"Relations with the EU are unbalanced and decisions belong to those who now have money and know-how," Mr Medelci added.

For its part, Algeria has still not confirmed whether it will attend the 13 July summit.

Another country which is to still take a decision on joining the Mediterranean club is Turkey where "assessments are underway," Turkish foreign minister Ali Babacan said in May.

Recently, the country was irritated by a vote of French deputies to establish an obligatory referendum as a way to ratify Ankara's possible EU membership, calling such an approach "discriminatory."

This has made French diplomats nervous that Turkey may boycott the Mediterranean Union, according to reports in the French press.

EU in diplomatic push to save Iran deal

EU leaders mobilise to stop Trump's attack on Iran deal, as Congress prepares knife-edge vote with implications for trans-Atantic ties and Middle East stability.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe