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Brussels, 31 October 2008

“Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean”: Ministers meet in Marseille to endorse its working modalities and to agree priorities for 2009

Foreign Ministers from all 43 states of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership meet in Marseille on 3-4 November to endorse plans for the mandate, structure and institutional governance of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean. The initiative, launched at the Paris Summit of 13th July, aims at injecting a renewed political momentum into the EU’s relations with the Mediterranean through the reinforcement of shared ownership and the achievement of wider visibility through a far-reaching programme of projects. To these ends, Ministers will examine the details of the Commission's proposals for the functioning of the co-presidency as well as the composition, seat and funding of the Secretariat. In efforts to advance the regional integration process, Ministers will also agree on priorities for the 2009 working programme

Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “The global and regional challenges we jointly face underline the political and practical imperatives of upgrading our relations with our neighbours. The Barcelona Process has served us well over the past thirteen years; the achievements testify to this – but certain setbacks and limitations remind us also that there is still much to do." And she added: "At the Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean in Paris we agreed to continue working on and to reinforce the positive elements of the Barcelona Process, through closer ties between all members, enhancing their sense of ownership of the process and delivering more concrete benefits for citizens of the region. Now, in Marseille, we will take the next steps forward by confirming the new institutional arrangements and agreeing on a work programme for 2009. I am confident that this will add new direction and dynamism to our relations.”

Ministers will decide on the remit and governance of the new institutional structure, the functioning of the co-Presidency and the composition, seat and funding of the Secretariat, taking into account the discussions and proposals submitted by partners. The new proposed architecture will build on the existing foundations and structures of the Barcelona Process. Projects are at the core of the restructured Partnership, and in their sourcing and administration, the Secretariat will strive to ensure that the selected projects promote growth, employment, regional cohesion and socio-economic integration. The Paris Summit has already identified a number of key areas: de-pollution of the Mediterranean; maritime and land highways; civil protection; Mediterranean Solar Plan; Euro-Mediterranean University; and a Mediterranean business development initiative.

Following the Ministers’ endorsement the Secretariat will seek the necessary additional funding from outside the traditional existing budget allocations. These funds are expected to come from the private sector, international financial institutions and bilateral cooperation as well as contributions from EU member States and Mediterranean Partners.

Bearing in mind the Barcelona 5-year work programme and the Declaration of the Paris Summit, ministers will outline their Ministerial meetings agenda and agree on the priorities for the 2009 work programme, in line with the key areas identified in Paris. Ministerials are planned for 2009 in the following sectors: Transport; Higher Education; Environment; Trade; Justice, Liberty and Security; Economy and Finance; Sustainable development; and Strengthening the role of women in society.

While the European Neighbourhood Policy will continue to drive bilateral relations in the region with a differentiated approach the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean will complement this policy by strengthening regional cooperation.

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