Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

Merkel criticises Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union plans

German chancellor Angela Merkel has warned that French plans for a Mediterranean Union risk splitting the EU.

Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Wednesday (5 December), Ms Merkel indicated that if French president Nicolas Sarkozy pushed ahead with his proposals for a union of countries from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa the "core" of the European Union would be threatened.

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.

  • Merkel (r) opposes Sarkozy's (l) Mediterranean plans (Photo: © Council of the European Union, 2000-2005)

The chancellor said that "cooperation between some member states has to be also open to the rest and it has to be approved by all member states."

It cannot be that some countries establish a Mediterranean Union and fund this with money from EU coffers, said the German leader.

"This could release explosive forces in the union I would not like," she said, according to news agency DPA.

Mr Sarkozy floated the idea for such a union during his presidential campaign earlier this year.

Since becoming president in May, he has elaborated on the proposal saying in October that "in the Mediterranean will be decided whether or not civilisations and religions will wage the most terrible of wars...whether or not the North and the South will clash".

Under the plans, the group would tie southern Europe with Northern Africa as well as Israel and its Arab neighbours and tackle topical issues such as counter-terrorism, immigration, energy, trade, water and sustainable development.

Just seven EU states - Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain - are envisioned to take part.

Mr Sarkozy's Mediterranean Union idea – he suggested on Wednesday that France and Algeria be the main axis of the Union - has also raised eyebrows in Brussels.

The European Commission fears it will undermine the 12-year-old Barcelona process, aimed at promoting dialogue between the EU and ten countries on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

There are also fears that it is a ruse to enmesh Turkey – which would be a member – into the process and detract from its current EU negotiations, with Mr Sarkozy being strongly opposed to Ankara's EU membership bid.

Division of powers

Speaking at the same meeting, Ms Merkel also offered some criticism of the new EU treaty, a document that was formed under her presidency of the bloc, according to German newspaper Handelsblatt.

While praising the treaty, due to be signed next week, as representing "historical progress" she added that "naturally it is still far from the clarity of our constitution on how powers are really delineated."

Summing up the effect of the treaty, she said that "a lot will change in the European Union" noting that because not all loopholes in the document had been closed off, member states will have to keep a close eye on how it is implemented.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

Interview

The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story

The lynching of a woman in the Soviet Union in 1988 gives insight into why reconciliation remains so hard in the 30-year long war on Europe's eastern fringe.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

News in Brief

  1. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  2. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  3. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  4. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  5. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  6. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  7. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms
  8. EU commission denies Juncker resignation rumour

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  2. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  3. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  5. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  6. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  7. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  9. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  10. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  11. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  12. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news