The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (or Barcelona Process) started in 1995 with the Barcelona Euro-Mediterranean Conference. The European Union stated the intention of this "partnership" is "to strengthen its relations with the countries in the Mashriq and Maghreb regions". The partnership laid the foundations for what came to be the Union for the Mediterranean, an institution building on, but not replacing, the EuroMed Partnership.
The European Union enlargement of 2004 brought two more Mediterranean countries (Cyprus and Malta) into the Union, while adding a total of 10 to the number of Member States. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership today comprises 44 members: 27 European Union member states, and 16 partner countries (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey).
The Barcelona Process is an initiative, which lays the foundations of a proposed new regional relationship. In the Barcelona Declaration, the Euro-Mediterranean partners established the three main objectives of the Partnership:
- Definition of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of political and security dialogue (Political and Security Basket).
- Construction of a zone of shared prosperity through an economic and financial partnership and the gradual establishment of a free-trade area (Economic and Financial Basket).
- Rapprochement between peoples through a social, cultural and human partnership aimed at encouraging understanding between cultures and exchanges between civil societies (Social, Cultural and Human Basket).
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership comprises two complementary dimensions:
Its agenda was the following:
- Security and stability in the Mediterranean;
- Agreeing on shared values and initializing a long-term process for cooperation in the Mediterranean;
- Promoting democracy, good governance and human rights;
- Achieving mutually satisfactory trading terms for the region's partners, the "region" consisting of the countries that participated;
- Establishing a complementary policy to the United States' presence in the Mediterranean.
The Barcelona Process comprises three "baskets":
- economic - to work for shared prosperity in the Mediterranean, including the Association Agreements on the bilateral level
- political - promotion of political values, good governance and democracy
- cultural - cultural exchange and strengthening civil society
Javier Solana opened the conference saying that they were brought together to straighten out the "clash of civilizations" and misunderstandings that there had been between them, and that it "was auspicious" that they had convened on the 900th anniversary of the First Crusade. He described the conference as a process to foster cultural and economic unity in the Mediterranean region. The Barcelona Treaty was drawn up by the 27 countries in attendance, and Javier Solana, who represented Spain as their foreign minister during their turn at the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, was credited with the diplomatic accomplishment.
At the initial meeting in 1995, the following members were present and agreed to the Barcelona Declaration:
The 15 EU member states of the time
- United Kingdom
Non-EU member states of the time
10 governments from the wider Mediterranean region
Representatives from two European institutions
The European Union carries out a number of activities bilaterally with each country. The most important are the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements that the Union negotiates with the Mediterranean Partners individually. They reflect the general principles governing the new Euro-Mediterranean relationship, although they each contain characteristics specific to the relations between the EU and each Mediterranean Partner.
Regional dialogue represents one of the most innovative aspects of the Partnership, covering at the same time the political, economic and cultural fields (regional co-operation). Regional co-operation has a considerable strategic impact as it deals with problems that are common to many Mediterranean Partners while it emphasises the national complementarities.
The multilateral dimension supports and complements the bilateral actions and dialogue taking place under the Association Agreements.
The Euromed Heritage program
As a result of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the Euromed Heritage program was formed. This program has been active since 1998, and has been involved in programs to identify the cultural heritages of Mediterranean states, promote their preservation, and educate the peoples of partner countries about their cultural heritages.
Both Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat had high praises for Solana's coordination of the Barcelona Process. Ehud Barak said they had all beaten their swords into ploughshares and that at last Israel had joined the "European Club". Libya was not present at the Conference as Colonel Gaddafi claimed it was a blatant European attempt to gain hegemony outside its borders. However, in 2000, both Gaddafi and his country acknowledged and signed up for the principles laid out in the Barcelona Process. The Barcelona Process, developed after the Conference in successive annual meetings, is a set of goals designed to lead to a free trade area in the Middle East by 2010. Solana has said that by the tenth anniversary of the conference true Middle East peace might be achieved. The Euro-Mediterranean free trade area (EU-MEFTA) is based on the Barcelona Process and ENP. The Agadir Agreement of 2004 is seen as its first building block.
By some analysts, the process has been declared ineffective. The stalling of the Middle East Peace Process is having an impact on the Barcelona Process and is hindering progress especially in the first basket. The economic basket can be considered a success, and there have been more projects for the exchange on a cultural level and between the peoples in the riparian states. Other criticism is mainly based on the predominant role the European Union is playing. Normally it is the EU that is assessing the state of affairs, which leads to the impression that the North is dictating the South what to do. The question of an enhanced co-ownership of the process has repeatedly been brought up over the last years.
Being a long-term process and much more complex than any other similar project, it may be many years before a final judgement can be made.
In 2007 French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the formation of a Union for the Mediterranean which would consist principally of Mediterranean states and presumably operate outside of the auspices of the European Union.
Euromediterranean Summit 2005
- 27 Member States of the European Union.
- 10 countries from the southern Mediterranean shore: Algeria, Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey (already part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the latter began EU accession talks on 3 October).
- Croatia, a candidate to join the EU, which began accession talks on 3 October.
- The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the Council of the EU
Moreover, the Barcelona Process includes 6 countries and institutions participating as permanent observers (Libya, Mauritania, the Secretary-General of the Arab League) and invited observers, such as the European Investment Bank, the Arab Maghreb Union, the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, the Economical and Social Committee or the Euromed Economical and Social Councils.
According to the ISN, "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were the only leaders from the Mediterranean countries to attend, while those of Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt were not present."
From the official web site, "The new realities and challenges of the 21st century make it necessary to update the Barcelona Declaration and create a new Action Plan (based on the good results of the Valencia Action Plan), encompassing four fundamental areas":
- Peace, Security, Stability, Good Government, and Democracy.
- Sustainable Economic Development and Reform.
- Education and Cultural Exchange
- Justice, Security, Migration, and Social Integration (of Immigrants).
- Arno Tausch (2005, Editor, with Peter Herrmann) ‘Dar al Islam. The Mediterranean, the World System and the Wider Europe. Vol. 1: The "Cultural Enlargement" of the EU and Europe's Identity; Vol. 2: The Chain of Peripheries and the New Wider Europe’. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers. Abridged paperback editions, 2006, under the title: “The West, Europe and the Muslim World” (Vol. 1) and “Towards a Wider Europe” (Vol. 2)
- (French)/(English) Official web page of Euromed Business School
- Euro-Mediterranean partnership, official web page of the European Union
- List of attendees of the Seminar previous to the Conference, in Spanish
- Promoting Middle East Democracy: European Initiatives U.S. Institute of Peace, October 2004
- ANIMA Investment Network: a multi-country platform for the economic development of the Mediterranean.