Wednesday

2nd Dec 2020

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

EU law needed to protect free press, NGOs say

More than 60 NGOs and media, including EUobserver, have signed a call for an EU-wide law to stop the rich and powerful from silencing critics with malicious litigation.

Green Deal

Legal battle over oil giant Shell's emissions begins

Environmental organisations have brought the multinational Shell to court, arguing that their current policies violate human rights by knowingly undermining international climate goals.

Frontex takes transparency activists to EU court

The EU border agency Frontex's annual budget for 2020 is €460m. Now they are launching court proceedings against two pro-transparency campaigners for not paying them €24,000 in legal fees after losing a case last year.

Frontex takes transparency activists to EU court

The EU border agency Frontex's annual budget for 2020 is €460m. Now they are launching court proceedings against two pro-transparency campaigners for not paying them €24,000 in legal fees after losing a case last year.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  2. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  4. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector

Latest News

  1. EU law needed to protect free press, NGOs say
  2. Socialists demand resignation of EU border-agency chief
  3. Orbán ally admits he was at Brussels lockdown 'sex party'
  4. Legal battle over oil giant Shell's emissions begins
  5. Chance for Christian Democrats to draw line against extremism
  6. Frontex takes transparency activists to EU court
  7. EU's opportunity to curb online politics ads
  8. China and Russia encircling divided Western allies

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us