Monday

25th Jul 2016

Mediterranean union not for conflict resolution, Fuele says

  • The Union for the Mediterranean is headquartered in Barcelona (Photo: EUobserver)

The Union for the Mediterranean is not a platform for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a "project-oriented" club, EU neighbourhood commissioner Stefan Fuele said after Arab leaders threatened to boycott an upcoming summit if Israel's foreign minister participates as planned.

"The very idea of the Union for the Mediterranean is not to create another framework for political discussions trying to solve the existing conflicts," Mr Fuele said Wednesday (12 May) in a press briefing in Brussels on the EU's relations with its eastern and southern neighbours over the past five years.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Barcelona-based organisation is instead designed to be a: "project-oriented union, where the secretariat led by Jordan's former EU ambassador is expected to put together ideas, investors, experts and to help stamp projects which will bring real benefits to the citizens of the region."

The main focus of the Union for the Mediterranean is to deal with energy, security, counter-terrorism, immigration and trade issues. But all projects need to be approved by consensus among its 48 members, around half of which are EU countries.

Launched by the French EU presidency in 2008, the Union was supposed to revive the looser regional co-operation framework dubbed the "Barcelona process," which failed to achieve any major results since its creation in 1995.

After Israel's bombing of the Gaza strip in the winter of 2008-2009, the establishment of the Union's secretariat was put on ice for roughly a year. The process was resumed this spring, with the Spanish EU presidency hoping to host the first summit since the Gaza war in Barcelona on 7 June.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos is currently in the regio trying to "boost support" for the summit, Mr Fuele said, adding that he will also work his way through diplomatic contacts on the ground in a visit planned for the coming weeks.

Some 43 countries from the European Union and the states bordering the Mediterranean Sea - including Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, as well as Jordan and the Palestinian Authority - have been invited to the June event.

The Israeli-Palestinian row is threatening to derail proceedings however, as it already did in October 2009, when Arab states pulled out from a foreign ministers' meeting because Israel's hardline top diplomat Avigdor Lieberman announced his participation.

Egypt and Syria recently announced they would boycott the Barcelona gathering if Mr Lieberman came. "I intend to, and I will be there," Mr Lieberman told Israel Radio. "We're not forcing ourselves on anyone and we're not forcing anyone else to come."

Unlike his predecessor Benita Fererro-Waldner, a former Austrian minister who took a critical stance towards Israel during her mandate, making her to clash occasionally with the Czech EU presidency, Mr Fuele, a Czech diplomat, kept a more cautious line.

"Israel and Palestine are both our partners. We have a very ambitious action plan on Israel and are ready to advance relations as soon as there is a consensus among member states," he said, while adding that Brussels also envisaged upgrading relations with the Palestinian Authority, if member states agree.

MEPs fear further 'Putinisation' of Turkey

MEPs criticised the harsh crackdown in Turkey after last week's failed coup, and warned that Ankara must not go down the road towards an authoritarian regime, in an extraordinary meeting of the EP's foreign affairs committee.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016
  2. GoogleHow Google Fights Piracy: Creating Value While Fighting Piracy
  3. EJC"My Visit to Israel" - Opinion by MEP Lopez Aguilar, Chair of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism
  4. World VisionChildren Migrating, Out of School and at Work as Hunger Deepens in Southern Africa
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStand-Up (and Exercise) to Prevent Chronic Diseases
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersLaunches a Real-time News Hub Specialised in EU Stakeholders
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen Calls for International Probe Into Turkey Coup Allegations
  8. GoogleEU-US Privacy Shield: Restoring Faith in Data Flows and Transatlantic Relations
  9. World VisionWorld Leaders & Youth Advocates Launch Partnership to End Violence Vs. Children
  10. Counter BalanceReport: Institutionalised Corruption in Romania's Third Largest Company
  11. Access NowEuropol Supports Encryption. We Can Relax Now… Right?
  12. GoogleLearn about Google's projects across Europe on Twitter @GoogleBrussels