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Partnership for democracy and prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean
The Commission presents the principal elements of a new partnership between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean countries. This partnership aims to support those countries engaged in political and economic reforms contributing towards increasing human rights and freedoms.
Joint Communication to the European Council, the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 March 2011 – A Partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean [COM(2011) 200 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
A new strategy for cooperation should enable the European Union (EU) to strengthen its support for those Southern Mediterranean countries undertaking political and economic reforms.
This renewed partnership should be based on the results of the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean partners must be ready to deepen their political cooperation, including on matters of external and security policy. They must demonstrate their ability to respect human rights and democratic processes.
The strategy should be implemented following a differentiated approach, in order to meet the needs of each country. In addition, the pace of reforms should determine the amount of financial assistance provided and whether the country may progress to the advanced status of association, based on the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements.
The priority reforms supported by the EU concern the functioning of public administration, political processes and tax systems, as well as the fight against corruption and illicit financial flows.
The strategy also commits the partners to improving social dialogue and the role of civil society, in particular through the creation of a Civil Society Neighbourhood Facility.
Improving the mobility of persons
The partners must establish frameworks for cooperation to promote the mobility of persons (particularly in the areas of visas and legal immigration, migration for seasonal work, managing remittances sent by migrants, return and reintegration programmes, etc.).
In addition, the EU plans actions to support the capacity of its partners to manage migration flows, concerning the integration of migrants and border security (fighting against irregular immigration, trafficking in human beings, trans-border crime and corruption, etc.).
Promoting inclusive economic development
The strategy should contribute towards identifying the social and economic reforms needed in order to improve economic stability and job creation in the partner countries.
The Commission identifies additional priorities concerning the quality of education systems, the legislation applicable to small and medium-sized enterprises, regional trade integration and Euro-Mediterranean cooperation in the industrial sector.
Promoting trade and investment
Improvements to the business climate are required in order to encourage trade and direct foreign investment. The strategy must also support strengthening the rule of law and the judiciary, tackling corruption and overhauling administrative procedures.
The EU has concluded trade agreements with all of its Mediterranean partners (except for Syria). These agreements should be supplemented by measures tailored to each country in the following areas:
- agricultural and fisheries products;
- the conformity of industrial products;
- the liberalisation of trade in services;
- Pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin.
In addition, the renewed partnership should lead to the negotiation of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements * with the aim of creating free trade areas.
Enhancing sectoral cooperation
New initiatives for cooperation should be launched, specifically in the following sectors:
- energy, by adopting a joint approach for energy security and the production of renewable energies;
- agriculture, food supply and food security;
- vocational education and training, in particular to tackle illiteracy and to develop student exchange programmes;
- aviation and maritime safety;
- information and communication technologies, by improving the applicable regulatory framework and the conditions of competition.
The financial priorities of the European Neighbourhood Policy must be re-defined following adoption of the strategy. The financial assistance should be increased and diversified, including having access to finance from international financial institutions, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the European Investment Bank (EIB).
In addition, the EU may consider granting macroeconomic assistance to its partners affected by the international financial crisis.