23rd May 2019

Brussels outlines plan for new Mediterranean club

The European Commission has begun to look at the possible set-up for the planned Mediterranean union by trying to breathe life into current bilateral relations between the EU and Mediterranean countries while avoiding an unwieldy new political organisation.

An internal paper discussed last week in EU commissioners' cabinets, suggests the new relationship has to be a "multilateral partnership" and "encompass all member states of the European Union."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Summits suggested twice a year with the first official one taking place in Paris on 13 July (Photo: Pixie.Notat)

It suggests summits at head of state and government level twice a year with the first official one to take place in Paris on 13 July, when France has the EU presidency.

This maiden summit is to formally create the "Barcelona Process - A Union for the Mediterranean" and establish the union's "structures and principle goals."

The summit's conclusions should include "a political declaration" and a short list of "concrete projects to be put in place" all of which should be agreed by consensus.

The careful wording as well as the cumbersome title for the EU-Mediterranean relationship reflects its controversial beginnings when, as the brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, it was foreseen as a more exclusive club, but which would still use EU money for funding.

This proposal, made during Mr Sarkozy's presidential campaign and seen as a way of wrapping Turkey up in a political structure that would keep it away from the EU, managed to offend several member states including Germany.

Eventually, EU leaders in March agreed to a softer all-inclusive version with less bite and Turkey, once it received assurances that it would not be seen as an alternative to EU membership, agreed to take part.

New secretariat

The Union for the Mediterranean which envisages working on a series of issues that affect both the EU and these southern countries including immigration, security and environment issues, is to have a co-presidency and a new secretariat.

The EU would be represented by the EU foreign policy chief and the president of the commission and of the European Council, while Mediterranean countries would have to choose their side by consensus. The co-president would have a mandate of two years.

The paper remains unclear about whether the secretariat should have limited powers, in charge only of following up on decisions made by the summit leaders or if it be something enlarged to every day "governance" of the Union for the Mediterranean.

The new set-up is supposed to include all countries involved in the current Barcelona Process – Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Palestinian Authority, Israel, Libya, Syria, Turkey and Albania – as well as other Mediterranean states – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Monaco.

It would revamp the current 12-year old Barcelona process which is designed to foster dialogue between the two sides but has become rather stale.

The commission paper suggests that any added value that the new-set-up is to have will depend on its capacity to attract money from the private sector for regional projects. It also suggests bilateral cooperation between certain countries and international financial institutions as further sources of funds.

The commission is soon to present its ideas on the Union for the Mediterranean to member states and the European Parliament. The project will then be formally discussed by EU leaders at a Brussels summit next month.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.


Populists 'could be the opposition parliament needs'

Dutch historian and writer Luuk van Middelaar argues populists could be the new opposition in the next European Parliament and a better reflection of EU public opinion - thus actually reinforcing the body's status.

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.


As candidates debate, more names surface for EU top jobs

Candidates from EU political families clash at the closely-watched debate in the European Parliament - but the elections themselves, plus lukewarm support from heads of government, could upend previous calculations.

News in Brief

  1. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  2. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  3. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  4. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  5. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  6. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  7. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  8. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us