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Tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership
The tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is an opportunity for the European Union (EU) to take stock of its relations with the Mediterranean Non-Member Countries (MNCs) and to reiterate its solidarity commitment to these countries. The Commission presents a new cooperation method based on a five-year work programme and built around priority actions for the future of the region.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 12 April 2005 - Tenth Anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: A work programme to meet the challenges of the next five years [COM(2005) 139 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission has identified the critical areas for the future of the Mediterranean region and for intensified relations between the EU and the MNCs.
It focuses on three key objectives:
- promoting human rights and democracy;
- supporting job creation and sustainable economic development by liberalising trade and promoting regional integration;
- contributing to better education for all.
With these proposals the Commission wishes to realise the full potential offered by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. A detailed analysis of achievements and shortcomings has shown that cooperation methods can be improved further.
A new model of cooperation may be drawn up via the institutional framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This would mean that new cooperation projects form part of a five-year work programme and benefit from the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements and the Neighbourhood Action Plans.
Human rights and democracy
The political dialogue set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership serves to develop common perceptions in the areas of democracy and respect for human rights. Greater emphasis will be placed on certain issues, such as gender equality, the promotion of fundamental and social rights and the role of civil society.
The Commission considers that new impetus must be given to the political dialogue to ensure stability and security in the Mediterranean region. It proposes to hold a conference on human rights and democratisation at sub-regional level. It also encourages the creation of a Democracy Facility under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.
Job creation and economic growth
The Commission considers that these two objectives will be met through trade liberalisation and sub-regional integration. Increased trade between the partners will be facilitated in particular by:
- enhanced liberalisation of trade in services and establishment, and of trade in agricultural and fishery products;
- increased convergence of technical legislation and regulations, upgrading of infrastructure to European standards;
- the development of South-South trade relations by the signing of Free Trade Agreements between the MNCs. This type of agreement must also enable the preferential rules of the Pan-Euro-Med cumulation of origin to be implemented;
- the establishment of appropriate budgetary and monetary policies, and the continuation of structural reforms aimed at lifting obstacles to growth, investment and job creation;
- the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Bank, taking into account the success of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) implemented by the European Investment Bank (EIB);
- the development of a regional transport network and the reform of the sector, and the adoption of recommendations for the creation of Euro-Mediterranean interconnections;
- the gradual establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean energy market and the development of energy infrastructures in the partner third countries;
- the adoption of environmental measures designed to depollute the Mediterranean Sea by 2020.
The contribution of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to improving education and vocational training involves intensifying bilateral cooperation. The Commission intends to increase by at least 50% the proportion of financial aid devoted to education from 2007. In line with the Millennium Development Goals, this cooperation focuses on eradicating illiteracy, ensuring primary education for all and eliminating gender disparity at all levels of education.
Mobility in higher education will also be encouraged by extending existing programmes and by launching a new scheme of scholarships for university students co-financed by the MNCs.
Justice, freedom and security
The Commission recommends a series of actions aimed at enhancing cooperation, in particular in the area of migration and social integration of migrants. It recalls that local authorities and civil society play a key role in these areas.
The aim here is to pursue more practical and sustained cooperation in the fight against terrorism through a political dialogue at regional level. Bilateral state-to-state cooperation has proved insufficient and a new stage in the deepening of relations could be the adoption of a common Code of Conduct.
Weapons of mass destruction and ESDP
Attaining the objectives of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership should lead to a Mediterranean region free of weapons of mass destruction and compliance by all the MNCs with their international obligations in this area. The Secretary General/High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) has taken the initiative of organising a workshop on this subject, aimed at developing Euro-Mediterranean cooperation within the framework of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
The Middle East Peace Process and the resolution of other conflicts
The appearance of conflicts is an obstacle to progress in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This is why the EU supports cooperation and political dialogue among the parties. Even though the Barcelona Process is not a forum in which a settlement can be reached, it provides the instruments for maintaining peace.
The Commission proposes the signing of a Euro-Mediterranean charter for peace and stability and closer regional integration through the European Neighbourhood Policy. This strategy is suited to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and may be reproduced to help resolve other conflicts, in particular the Western Sahara conflict that is a significant obstacle to the development of the integration process within the Arab Maghreb Union.
The new Anna Lindh Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures should promote the participation of civil society in the Barcelona Process. Additional mechanisms should strengthen this participation, in particular through the organisation of a Euro-Mediterranean civil forum. The results of the forum will be made operational through the Neighbourhood Policy and its financing instrument.
The Commission supports the Arab International Women's Forum in its efforts to set up a network of women who are leaders in their areas of business.
In this Communication, the Commission draws up the preparatory framework for the meetings of the Foreign Affairs Ministers in 2005. Most notable was the Extraordinary Conference in Barcelona celebrating the tenth anniversary of a strong partnership between the EU and the MNCs, based on the basic principles of the Partnership, namely dialogue and cooperation.
The Luxembourg Conference ('Barcelona VII') aims to make concrete progress in the areas described above. To this end, the Commission attaches to its recommendations a timetable of measures to be taken in the short and medium term to achieve an integrated Euro-Mediterranean area by 2010.